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Helsinki 1952 Torch Getty Images

Route design and details

From Olympia, the flame was carried on foot to Athens. It flew to Aalborg, Denmark with two stops in Munich and Düsseldorf, Germany. In Denmark, Sweden and Finland, it was carried on foot and by other modes of transport.

4 July 1952: The flame reached Stockholm and entered the Olympic Stadium of the 1912 Games where it burned throughout the night.

17 July: The flame reached the city of Hämeenlinna, Finland, the site of the modern pentathlon events of the 1952 Games. From the Town Hall, it moved to the competition venue and burned there throughout the event.

19 July: At the Opening Ceremony, Paavo Nurmi, the famous runner who won nine gold medals and three silver medals at three Summer Olympic Games (1920, 1924 and 1928), lit a temporary two-metre high cauldron in the stadium. Four Helsinki footballers then took the flame to the top of the Stadium’s tower, where Hannes Kolehmainen, another famous Finnish runner, then lit the main cauldron.

Helsinki 1952 Relay route IOC

Start date: 25 June 1952, Olympia (Greece)
End date: 19 July 1952, Olympic Stadium, Helsinki (Finland)
First torchbearer: Christos Panagopoulos
Last torchbearer: Hannes Kolehmainen, Olympic participant in athletics (1912, 1920, 1924), three time gold medallist and silver medallist in Stockholm 1912, and gold medallist in Antwerp 1920.
Number of torchbearers: 3,042.
342 in Greece, 650 in Denmark, 700 in Sweden, 1,350 in Finland.
Recruitment of torchbearers: -
Distance: 7,492 km (non-Olympic relay excluded).
342 km in Greece, 505 km in Denmark (including a 55 km Copenhagen-Malmö leg by boat), 2,392 km in Sweden, 1,128 km in Finland.
3,125 km Athens-Aalborg flight.
Countries visited: Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Finland
Helsinki 1952 Torch IOC Description: On the upper metal part, the torch bears the inscriptions XV Olympia Helsinki 1952 and Helsinki Helsingfors, the Olympic rings and a wreath. The handle is made of lacquered birch wood. Colour: Brown, silver, beige
Height: 59 cm
Composition: Silver, metal, wood
Fuel: Liquid gas. The combustion time of the cartridge is at least 21 minutes.
Designer / Manufacturer: Aukusti Tuhka / Kultakeskus Oy
Did you know?
The fuel cartridge of the torch is quickly detachable and replacable. Because of this, the organisers produced only 22 torches and 1,600 cartridges. The torches were re-used along the route.

Did you know?

  • The flame that was 1.5 m wide and up to 4 m high burned at the top of the Olympic Stadium tower 72 m above the ground.

  • It was for the relay for the Games in Helsinki in 1952 that the Olympic flame made its first trip by plane, flying from Athens to Aalborg. It was preserved in a safety lamp.

  • On 6 July 1952, a non-Olympic relay kicked off in the Pallastunturi fells in Lapland, using a flame that was lit on the Taivaskero summit from the midnight sun’s rays. It was carried by 330 runners over 378 km to Tornio, a border city close to Sweden. There, on 8 July, it merged with the Olympic torch relay flame, which had just entered Finland carried by Olympic gold medallist in the discus at Antwerp 1920, and silver medallist in the hammer event at Los Angeles 1932, Ville Pörhölä. The meeting of the two flames symbolised the coming together of southern and northern countries at the Games.

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