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London 1948 Torch IOC

Route design and details

To recall the truce during the ancient Games, the first torchbearer, soldier Konstantinos Dimitrelis, symbolically removed his uniform, put down his weapons and began the relay in sportswear.

Owing the Civil War in Greece, the relay initially planned from Olympia to Athens was cancelled and diverted to Katakolon, on the coast near Olympia. From there, the flame sailed to Italy, via the island of Corfu, where a relay was also held.

24 July 1948: In Lausanne, the relay stopped off at the Bois de Vaux cemetery, where the grave of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, is located.

The flame reached England on 28 July at Dover and arrived at Wembley Stadium the following day, during the Opening Ceremony, during which the cauldron was lit.

The day after the Opening Ceremony, a flame was lit from the cauldron in Wembley Stadium, and a 330-km relay involving 107 runners kicked off, heading to the town of Torquay, where another cauldron was lit and burned during the sailing events.

London 1948 Relay route IOC

Start date: 17 July 1948, Olympia (Greece)
End date: 29 July 1948, Wembley Stadium, London (United Kingdom)
First torchbearer: Konstantinos Dimitrelis
Last torchbearer: John Marks
Number of torchbearers: 1,416 (London-Torquay relay excluded).
30 in Greece, 762 in Italy, 135 in Switzerland, 270 in France, 38 in Luxembourg, 108 in Belgium, 73 in England.
Recruitment of torchbearers: For Italy, the torchbearers came from the army. In England, the torchbearers were chosen from amongst runners from clubs affiliated with the County Amateur Athletic Associations. Preference was given to clubs located in the area through which the torch relay route passed.
Distance: 3,365 km (London-Torquay relay excluded).
700 km by boat of which 250 km was between Katakolon and Corfu, and 2,665 km on land of which ~ 35 km was in Greece.
Countries visited: Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, United Kingdom
London 1948 Torch IOC Description: On the upper part, the torch bears the inscription Olympia to London with thanks to the bearer XIVth Olympiad 1948, as well as the carved and traced Olympic symbol.
Colour: Silver
Height: 40.5 cm
Composition: Steel, aluminium
Fuel: Hexamine tablets with 6% naphthalene
Designer / Manufacturer: Ralph Lavers / E.M.I. Factories Ltd, High Dury Alloys Ltd. 

Did you know?

  • To burn for the total duration of its transport by boat from Greece to Italy, a special burner fed by butane with a 48-hour burn time was designed for the flame.
  • A special torch (presented above) was made for the last torchbearer. So that the flame would be brighter in the Stadium, a magnesium flare was used. The burner was of stainless steel. The combustion duration of the wick was 10 minutes.

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