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After the flame-lighting ceremony in Olympia, the flame was relayed night and day for a week across Greece. The relay in Bulgaria lasted six days, passing by the country’s main historical and cultural monuments. During its passage through the city of Lovesh, the torch was taken to the residence of Georgi Ivanov, the first Bulgarian cosmonaut. The route through Romania went over the Friendship Bridge, which linked Bulgaria and Romania. Wrestler Dimitru Pirvulescu, a gold medallist in Rome in 1960, was the first Romanian torchbearer.
In Romania, the relay covered 89 cities and villages. In Bucharest, 40,000 people welcomed the flame in the Dynamo Stadium for the first stage of the relay in the country.
On 5 July, the flame arrived in the Soviet Union. It was handed to Soviet athletes on the bridge that separated Romania and the Soviet Union near the Moldovan village of Leuşeni.
On 18 July, the flame entered Moscow. An official ceremony was organised for the occasion on Sovietskaya Square where a cauldron was lit. From this cauldron other torches were lit on 20 July and taken by special railcars to the cities of Tallinn, Leningrad, Minsk and Kiev who were also hosting certain of the sports events.
The aim was to cover as much of France as possible by passing through all the regional capitals. Particular focus was placed on the areas with the biggest population and Savoie, which was hosting the Games. The 57 days of the relay in France echoed the 57 events at the Winter Games in Albertville.
On 14 December 1991, the flame landed in Paris aboard a supersonic Concorde coming from Athens. The first torchbearer on French soil was Catherine Marsall, world cycling champion in 1990. In the evening, the flame reached the Champs-Elysées, where it was carried to the applause of the 200,000 people watching.
On 28 December, in Normandy, between Le Havre and Rouen, the flame stopped at the Château de Mirville. A ceremony attended by almost 1,500 people including various personalities was organised in tribute to Pierre de Coubertin, who lived there for part of his childhood.
Coinciding with the 100-days-to-go mark on 1 November 2017, and following the lighting of the Olympic flame in Olympia, Greece, one week earlier, the Olympic flame will arrive in the city of Incheon.
The Olympic flame will then spend 101 days making its way around 17 cities and provinces across the Republic of Korea, shining a spotlight on the nation’s culture, technological prowess and landmarks, and enabling people across the host country to share in the excitement of the Olympic Torch Relay.
A total of 7,500 torchbearers will take part in the Olympic Torch Relay. To accompany the relay, a fun programme of events and activities will be staged each evening in the cities along the route. The identity of the final torchbearer, who will have the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron, will only be revealed on 9 February, the day of the Opening Ceremony for PyeongChang 2018.
The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Torch Relay will inspire a generation and bring people together from different cultures, races, and religions,” promised POCOG President Lee Hee-beom. “As the torchbearers carry the torch for 101 days, we are confident that the flame will truly ‘Let Everyone Shine’ and spark passion and excitement before the Games.
The general route of the Relay is planned as follows:
After the lighting ceremony in Olympia, the flame travelled across Greece for three days and two nights to arrive in Athens. From there, following a stopover in Bangkok, it travelled to the Korean island of Cheju-do, which it reached on 27 August.
On Cheju Island, two young pupils from Cheju school, a boy and a girl, marked the start of the next stage of the relay, which crossed the island clockwise. On 28 August, the flame set sail on board the Olympia 88 for Busan, where a cauldron was lit in Yongdusan Park. The following day, the main relay continued. The cauldron remained lit in the Park until 12 September when a secondary relay of 18.2 km took the flame to the city’s sailing club, where the sailing events were being hosted.
The main relay crossed the country from east to west, to symbolise harmony. In Kangnung, 12 young mothers carried the flame while pushing their children, all born in 1988.
On 16 September, the flame arrived in Seoul. It was taken to the City Hall, where it was received by the Mayor of the city. On the day of the Opening Ceremony, the flame was carried into the stadium by Kee Chung Sohn, the legendary marathon winner of the 1936 Games, then participating under the name Kitei Son. Then, young sprinter Chun-Ae Im passed the flame to the last three torchbearers, who lit the cauldron together.
After the lighting ceremony in Olympia, the flame arrives at Andravida, where it takes off for Athens. From there, it is flown to St John’s in Newfoundland (Canada).
On 18 November 1987, the relay on Canadian soil began. The first runners were Barbara Ann Scott, a figure skating gold medallist at St Moritz in 1948, and Harry Ferdinand (Ferd) Hayward who, at Helsinki in 1952, was the first Newfoundlander to represent Canada at the Games. They ran the first kilometre together.
On 19 January 1988, the flame reached Inuvik, the most northerly point of the relay, above the Arctic Circle and in temperatures below -30 degrees.
Once lit in Olympia, the flame reached Athens, where it was passed on to representatives of the Beijing Games Organising Committee on 30 March 2008 in the Panathenaic Stadium. On 31 March, the flame landed in Beijing. From there, it continued its journey around the world, which took it to 19 cities on the five continents before reaching Hong Kong, then Macao and, finally, Mainland China.
Part of the path of the relay was inspired by the Silk Road, with some of the cities crossed located on this ancient network of commercial roads between Asia and Europe. In addition to travelling to all the continents, the organisers’ aim was to circulate the Olympic flame widely in Asia within the framework of the international relay.
In Mainland China, the relay crossed 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. It began on 4 May in Sanya, in the province of Hainan, with five-time Olympic speed skating medallist Yang Yang (A) as the first torchbearer. Arriving in Hangzhou on 18 May, the relay took a break of three days between the 19th and 21st of May to mark the national mourning for the victims of the dramatic earthquake which had struck the province of Sichuan a few days before, on 12 May. The organisers also decided to modify the relay route so that the flame visited the province of Sichuan at the end of its journey. Originally planned between 15 and 18 June, the journey through the ravaged province finally took place between 3 and 5 August, just before the flame reached Beijing.
On the morning of 6 August, the flame reached Beijing and travelled for three days through the capital. On 8 August, at the Opening Ceremony, the flame was carried by relay to the Stadium by seven famous Chinese athletes, one after the other: Haifeng Xu, Min Gao, Xiaoshuang Li, Xugang Zhan, Jun Zhang, Zhong Chen and Jinfang Sun. The torch was then entrusted to Ning Li, a six-time medallist in gymnastics at the Los Angeles 1984 Games. Lifted by cables, Ning Li took flight and moved in the air doing a lap along the edge of the Stadium roof, until he reached the cauldron, which he finally lit.
This was the case in the sanctuary of Olympia, where the Ancient Olympic Games took place. The flame was lit using the rays of the sun, to ensure its purity, and a skaphia, the ancestor of the parabolic mirror used today for lighting the Olympic flame. A flame burned permanently on the altar of the goddess Hestia, and such fires were also lit on the altars of Zeus and Hera, in front of whose temple the Olympic flame is lit today.
In the context of the modern Games, the Olympic flame represents the positive values that Man has always associated with fire. The purity of the flame is guaranteed by the way it is lit using the sun‟s rays. The choice of Olympia as a departure point emphasises the link between the Ancient and Modern Games and underlines the profound connection between these two events.
In Brazil, the Relay route went through the five regions of the country and took in some of the most impressive features, like the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, the beaches of Bahia and the Iguaçu Falls. Lasting 95 days, the Relay followed the Olympic flame within the reach of 90% of the population, visiting more than 300 cities and towns.
The general route of the Relay was planned as follows:
The relay symbolised the link between the Mediterranean and American civilisations and retraced the first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World. It evoked the events and places associated with this voyage, notably travelling through the three key places of Genoa, the birthplace of Columbus; Palos in Spain, from where he set sail; and San Salvador, the first land he reached on the other side of the Atlantic.
After its lighting in Olympia, the flame travelled by relay in Greece to Athens, from where it set sail for Italy on 25 August.
The 27th of August, the flame disembarked in Genoa, Italy where a ceremony was held in front of the house where Christophe Columbus had lived. It left the next day, again by sea, for Spain.
The 30th of August, the flame reached Barcelona, the city where Columbus had arrived on his return from America. On land, it travelled across Spain via Madrid to Palos. The last relay leg was run by Cristóbal Colón Carbajal, a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus.
The flame left the south coast of Spain on 12 September, reaching the Canary Islands on 14 September and, a fortnight later, San Salvador, Bahamas in the same place that Columbus landed in the New World in 1492.
The 6th of October, the flame disembarked in Veracruz in Mexico, transported by a relay of 17 swimmers who carried it to the shore. It was then brought to Teotihuacan, 38 km from Mexico City. There, on the evening of 11 October, under the watchful eye of 50,000 spectators, a majestic ceremony symbolising the fusion of mythologies from the Old and New Worlds took place on the site of pre-Columbian pyramids.
When the flame arrived in Mexico City on the morning of the Opening Ceremony on 12 October two torches were lit from it. One torch was taken to the National Museum of Anthropology, one of the Cultural Olympiad sites. A second torch was taken by plane to the site of the sailing competitions in Acapulco. In both places a cauldron was lit and kept burning for the duration of the Games.
After the lighting ceremony in Olympia, the flame is flown to various German cities: Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg, Esslingen, Karlsruhe, Düsseldorf, Winterberg, Herne, Essen, Dortmund, Duisburg, Grefrath and Hamburg. It also goes to Cologne University, where a cauldron is lit in honour of Carl Diem, the Secretary General of the 1936 Games Organising Committee and the initiator of the torch relay. The journey continues via Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and, finally, Lillehammer.
At the Opening Ceremony, Stein Gruben astounded those watching by jumping from the ski jump while holding the torch. He took the place of the intended torchbearer Ole Gunnar Fidjestol, who had injured himself during rehearsals.
After the flame-lighting ceremony in Olympia and its relay across Greece, the flame arrived in Athens on 6 April. To mark the Centennial of the Games, a special celebration was organised in the Panathenaic Stadium. Representatives of the 17 cities that had hosted the Summer Games before Atlanta were present. Each of them received a safety lamp, whose flame was lit from a main torch. During the next 21 days, these flames were celebrated in each of the former host cities, while the main flame burned in Athens. These flames were extinguished when the main flame left Athens to fly to Los Angeles.
On 27 April, the flame arrived in Los Angeles. The relay on American soil began at the Memorial Coliseum, the Stadium that hosted the Los Angeles Games in 1932 and 1984. The first torchbearer was Olympian Rafer Johnson, the last torchbearer of the 1984 Games. The relay notably passed through St Louis, host city of the Olympic Games in 1904.
On 19 July, the flame reached the city of Atlanta. In order to honour the origins of the modern Olympic Games, Evander Holyfield, originally from Atlanta, shared the torch with Greek athlete Voula Patoulidou for part of the leg in the Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. Swimmer Janet Evans took over the relay, doing a lap of the track before heading for a long ramp located at the top of the extreme north of the Stadium. She passed the torch to Muhammad Ali, who had the honour of lighting the cauldron.
After being lit in Olympia, the flame is relayed to Athens and flown to Rome, where the Italian leg of the relay begins. It included parts in the neighbouring countries, including the former Olympic Winter Games host cities of Albertville and Grenoble in France.
The relay on Italian soil got under way at the Piazza del Quirinale. Stefano Baldini, the marathon Olympic gold medallist in Athens in 2004, was the first torchbearer. The flame then travelled around Italy, passing in particular through the two cities which had already hosted the Games: Cortina d’Ampezzo and Rome.
When the flame stopped in Cortina d’Ampezzo, it was exactly 50 years to the day after the opening of the Olympic Winter Games in 1956.
The final part of the relay honoured some of Italy’s sporting heroes. First, it was three-time Olympic skiing champion Alberto Tomba who had the privilege to carry the Olympic flame into the stadium, then to hand it to the four men who had made up the Italian 4x10km cross-country skiing relay team which won gold in Lillehammer in 1994. They covered part of the stadium before handing the flame to Piero Gros, an Alpine skiing gold medallist at the Games in 1976, who was followed by the penultimate torchbearer Deborah Compagnoni, three-time Olympic Alpine skiing champion in 1992, 1994 and 1998. She passed the flame to Stefania Belmondo, an Italian Nordic skiing legend, who lit the 57 meters high cauldron, the tallest in the history of the Games.
To promote the Games among the largest number of people possible in the United States, the relay passed through over 300 towns and villages in 46 states. The route included the previous Games host cities, Atlanta, Lake Placid, St Louis, Los Angeles and Squaw Valley.
On 4 December 2001, after leaving Athens the previous day, the flame landed in Atlanta. At the Centennial Olympic Park, Muhammad Ali, who lit the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, lit the first torch on American soil. The former boxer then handed it to Peggy Fleming, the figure skating Olympic gold medallist at Grenoble in 1968. She ran the first leg of the relay with her coach Robert Paul, who had won the figure skating gold medal at the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley.
On 8 February 2002, at the Opening Ceremony, for the first time in Olympic history, an entire team, the winning US men’s ice hockey team from the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, lit the Olympic cauldron.
Once lit in Olympia, the flame visited Athens then crossed the country via Delphi, Larisa, Thessaloniki and Kavala. En route to Munich, the relay notably passed through Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Federal Republic of Germany and Innsbruck, Austria, cities which had hosted the Olympic Winter Games in the past.
Upon its arrival in Munich, the flame was welcomed at a reception held on the Königsplatz, attended by 20,000 spectators. The flame was taken to the Maximilianeum, headquarters of the Bavarian parliament, where it was kept in a brazier until the day of the Opening Ceremony.
At the Opening Ceremony, the last torchbearer, European Günther Zahn, was accompanied by runners from the other four continents: Kipchoge Keino (Africa), Jim Ryun (America), Kenji Kimihara (Asia) and Derek Clayton (Oceania).
A flame was lit from the principal one to be taken on a relay from Munich to Kiel, where the sailing events were held. This two-day relay covered 933 km and saw the participation of 1,280 torchbearers on foot, 90 cyclists and 34 horse riders.
On 27 August, the day after the Opening Ceremony, a flame was also lit and taken on a 104 km relay from Munich to Augsburg, where the canoe events were being held.
After the lighting ceremony in Olympia and a relay across Greece, the flame reached Athens, which it left on 9 June on board the Cataluña frigate.
On 13 June, the flame reached the Catalan coast in Empúries, a former Greek colony founded in around 600BC. It was welcomed by about 1,000 different boats and a crowd of 5,000 people who waited for it on the shore. It reached the coast in a typical Catalan boat, propelled by 10 rowers.
From Empúries, the relay travelled at first to Catalonia and then the rest of Spain. The relay passed through 652 localities, including the capitals of each of the 17 autonomous communities and the various Olympic sites. The route also included the Canary Islands, reached by plane. The crossing between Tenerife and Las Palmas was made by hydrofoil. On its approach to Barcelona, the relay travelled to the Balearics by boat.
On 24 June, the flame reached Barcelona and travelled through the city the whole night surrounded by an excited crowd. The following day, the last stage took it to the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony, where Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo ignited the cauldron by shooting an arrow lit from the Olympic flame.
After being lit in Olympia, the flame is taken by car and plane to Athens via Andravida, from where it takes off for Dubrovnik.
On 30 January 1984, the first torchbearer on Yugoslav soil was Veselin Djuho, a member of the Yugoslav water polo team which won gold in Los Angeles in 1984 and at Seoul in 1988.
A second flame was lit from the original flame, and the relay split into two parts between Dubrovnik and Sarajevo, one going through the east of the country and the other through the western part.
A total of 89 local Olympic torch relays were organised with a view to promoting Olympism as widely as possible. The torches used for these relays were lit from the main flame and taken to winter sports resorts and sports centres in the region. These local relays involved 7,500 people.
The flame is taken by car from Olympia to Athens and is then flown to Vienna.
The torch relay route split in two at Vienna, one heading north and the other heading for the southern part of the country. Three days before the Opening Ceremony, the two routes joined at Innsbruck. The flame was kept in the Maximilian Saal of the Goldenen Dachl, as in 1964, until the Opening Ceremony on 4 February.
To allow as many people as possible to see the flame, it was transported for some 1,500 kilometres on the roof of a car fitted with a glass dome specially designed for this purpose.
As for the 1952 Winter Games in Oslo, it was a “symbolic Nordic” flame lit in Morgedal in Norway in the hearth of the house where Sondre Norheim, the pioneer of modern skiing, was born.
The flame was originally to have been lit in Olympia. However, the Hellenic Olympic Committee, informed a month before the Games, did not have enough time to organise a lighting ceremony. Instead, the Organising Committee looked to Norway.
After being transported by car to Copenhagen via Oslo, the flame is flown to Los Angeles. From there, the relay takes it through California to Squaw Valley.
On the day of the Opening Ceremony, the torch was carried by American skier Andrea Mead Lawrence. She was accompaned by eight members of the National Ski Patrol. The flame was passed to the last torchbearer, skater Kenneth Charles Henry, who did a lap of the ice in front of the Blyth Memorial Arena before lighting the cauldron in which the flame would burn throughout the Games.
Strictly speaking, the flame was not “Olympic”, as it was lit in Rome rather than at Olympia in Greece.
On 22 January 1956, the flame was lit on the steps of the Temple of Capitoline Jove in Rome, in a tripod from Olympia. It was carried in a brasero to the top of the steps outside the Senatorial Palace. The first torchbearer set off from there.The flame arrives at Ciampino airport and takes off for Venice.
From Venice, the flame travels by gondola to Mestre. From Mestre, the first stage of the relay taking it to Cortina is covered on roller skates.
On 25 January, the day before the Opening Ceremony, the flame was carried by skiers from Zuel, near Cortina, up to the Duca d’Aosta refuge, situated at 2,098m, where it spent the night.
On 26 January, the day the Games were opened, 1952 Olympic Winter gold medallist Zeno Colò carried the flame by skis to Cortina. Rockets were used to illuminate the flame’s path along the valley. In Cortina, two other Olympians, Severino Menardi and Enrico Colli, took it in turns to carry the flame to the stadium. Once there, speed skater Guido Caroli skated with it into the packed Ice Stadium. The television cables he tripped over during his lap of the track did not prevent him from lighting the cauldron.
From Olympia, where it is lit, the flame is taken by car to Athens, from where it is flown to Japan.
On 30 December 1971, the torch arrived at Okinawa Island, where a 60-km relay took place around the island the following day.
On 1 January 1972, the flame reached Tokyo. A ceremony was held at the National Stadium.
On Japanese soil, the flame was taken first to Nirasaki. There, it was split in two and followed two routes up the island of Honshu, one on the east coast the other on the west coast, meeting at Aomori in the north of the island. Once on the island of Hokkaido after crossing the Tsugaru Strait, the flame split in three, passing through the cities of Hakodate, Kushiro and Wakkanai before reaching Sapporo.
On 29 January, the three flames reached Sapporo.
On 30 January, the three flames were reunited at a ceremony attended by IOC President Avery Brundage. The flame was then taken to the City Hall square.
On 3 February, the flame was taken to the Opening Ceremony. Skater Izumi Tsujimura passed it to Hideki Takada, who lit the cauldron.
After the lighting ceremony in Olympia, the flame embarked on an eight-day journey across Greece, travelling to Crete and the north of the country via Thessaloniki, Xanthi and Larissa, before arriving on 17 May in Athens to be officially handed over to the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games in London.
The flame then flew to the United Kingdom, where it arrived on 18 May. The British relay began the following day in Land’s End in Cornwall, with Ben Ainslie, triple Olympic champion in sailing from Britain as the first runner. The relay route was designed so that 95 per cent of the population of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey would be a maximum of one hour from the route travelled by the flame. The flame stopped off in Much Wenlock, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, the White Cliffs of Dover, Orkney and the Channel Islands.
On 21 July, the flame entered the city of London in spectacular fashion. Indeed, it was flown in by a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter. Hovering 20 m above Tower Wharf, a Royal Marine Commando abseiled from the helicopter, carrying the flame in a lantern attached to him. The flame then travelled some 300 km over the week in the British capital and was carried by 982 torchbearers, passing by the city’s most famous monuments.
On the day of the Opening Ceremony, the flame was transported from Tower Bridge to the Stadium by speedboat, carried by footballer David Beckham and young female footballer Jade Bailey. They passed the flame on to Steve Redgrave, a five-time Olympic gold medallist in rowing. Then, in order to symbolise the passing of the Olympic flame to the young generation, seven young athletes aged 16 to 19 had the honour of lighting the cauldron.
The relay highlighted Athens and Rome, the two poles of classical civilisation. In order to recall the relationship between the ancient and modern Games, it passed through numerous ancient sites and birthplaces of athletes who excelled at the ancient Olympic Games.
Notably, the relay travelled through the coastal region of Italy in the south, known in Antiquity as Great Greece (Magna Graecia), where Greek colonies such as Metapontum and Tarento were located.v
13 August 1960: After a relay in Greece via Pyrgos, Patras, Corinth, Megara and Eleusis, the flame reached Athens at the end of the day. The same evening it set sail on the Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian navy training ship.
18 August: The flame reached Italian soil in Syracuse near the Arethusa fountain, a monument that refers to an ancient legend. En route for Rome, a flame was left in Naples, where the sailing competitions were held, and in Castel Gandolfo, host of the rowing and canoe events.
24 August: The relay entered the province of Rome on the Via Appia Nuova. That evening, the flame was welcomed with great pomp on the Capitoline Hill where it spent the night and, the next day it was taken to the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.
With the exception of the Opening Ceremony, in Denmark and Sweden, the relay took place entirely on horseback as a reminder that only the equestrian events were being staged in Stockholm.
The flame was lit in Olympia then relayed to Athens. It then flew to Kastrup airport, near Copenhagen, where a relay was staged to the capital. It then headed for Malmö in Sweden. There it was carried into the city. It continued its journey to Sörentorp and finally to Stockholm.
At the Opening Ceremony, Swedish cavalry captain Hans Wilkne entered the Stadium at a gallop, saluted the King, the IOC members and the Games participants, and lit the cauldron, which burned throughout the Games. The flame was then passed to Karin Lindberg, a gold medallist in gymnastics in Helsinki in 1952, who then passed on part of the flame to Swedish runner and gold medallist in the 1,500 metres at the London 1948 Games, Henry Eriksson. Both ran, torch in hand, around the Stadium forming the shape of a horse shoe, one on each side, to arrive at the two towers and light the summit of each with a flame.
Lit in Olympia, the flame was carried by relay for about 10 days in Greece.
The relay then visited 12 island countries and territories of Oceania, beginning with Guam, where the flame landed on 22 May. Due to political tension, the Organising Committee cancelled the originally scheduled Fiji stop between Tonga and New Zealand. In New Zealand, the last leg before Australia kicked off on 5 June in the snow of Coronet Peak, Queenstown on the South Island. It ended on 7 June in Auckland, on the North Island.
On 8 June, the flame reached Yulara in Australia and the relay began near the sacred rock of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. Nova Peris-Kneebone, a hockey gold medallist at the Atlanta 1996 Games, ran barefoot in the first leg of the relay on Australian soil as a mark of respect for the Aboriginal people, of whom she was one.
The flame travelled the country for 100 days in passing through over 1,000 towns and suburbs. Modes of transport included a section on camel back in Broome, a railway journey across the Nullarbor Plain on board the Indian Pacific and a trip by surfboat in the rollers of Bondi Beach in Sydney.
On 15 September, during the Games Opening Ceremony, the flame was carried into the Stadium by Betty Cuthbert who sat in a wheelchair, pushed by Raelene Boyle. Then, in turn, Dawn Fraser, Shirley Strickland, Shane Gould and Debbie Flintoff-King relayed the flame to Cathy Freeman. Freeman climbed a series of steps, positioning herself at the centre of a shallow circular pool and stood level with the water to light the 150 burner nozzles placed just below it. A circle of fire surrounded the athlete before the whole cauldron was raised to the top of the Stadium where it burned for the duration of the Games.
After the flame was lit in Olympia and had been carried by relay to Athens, the flame took to the air on 23 August 1964 to travel via Istanbul, Beirut, Tehran, Lahore, New Delhi, Calcutta, Rangoon, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Hong Kong and Taipei, cities in each of which a relay took place.
At the request of the Nepalese Olympic Committee, when the relay stopped off in New Delhi, a second flame was lit from the main flame and from there was taken to Kathmandu, where a ceremony took place. The flame was then transported by plane to Calcutta where it was reunited with the main flame.
On 7 September, the flame landed on the island of Okinawa. The first runner was Isamu Miyagi, who carried the torch to the Okutakeyama Stadium, where a welcome ceremony was held. To make up the delay owing to a typhoon in Hong Kong, a part of the flame was sent to the Japanese mainland in Kagoshima on 9 September, while the Okinawa relay continued. On 11 September, the two flames were once again reunited in Fukuoka.
The flame crossed Japan by taking four different paths, leaving respectively for Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Chitose and Aomori. From Chitose, the flame travelled to the prefecture of Aomori, where the route split into two: one headed for the south towards the Sea of Japan, and the other also went southwards but on the Pacific Ocean side.
On 9 October in Tokyo, in the square outside the Imperial Palace, the four flames were reunited in one cauldron on the occasion of a ceremony.
On the following day, the final relay stage during which the route went from the Imperial Palace to the National Stadium, the flame was carried by five men and two women before being handed to the final runner, Yoshinori Sakai, at the Opening Ceremony. He climbed the 163 steps that led up to the cauldron and lit it exactly three hours and three seconds after noon.
After being lit in Olympia, the flame is relayed throughout Greece, from where it is flown to Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) from Athens. The relay passed through every Canadian province and territory, and included Montreal and Calgary, host cities of the Games in 1976 and 1988.
On 30 October 2009, the flame landed at Victoria in Canada. Two Olympic medallists, Catriona le May Doan and Simon Whitfield, ran the first leg of the relay together.
On 8 November, the flame arrived by air in Alert in the territory of Nunavut, the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, 817 km from the North Pole.
On 9 February 2010, to honour the friendship between the two countries, the flame briefly entered the Unied States at the Peace Arc border crossing between the state of Washington (United States) and British Columbia (Canada).
On 12 February, at the Opening Ceremony, although a technical problem prevented one of the four arms of the cauldron from rising up, the cauldron was still successfully lit by the torchbearers standing by the other arms: Nancy Greene Raine, Wayne Gretzky and Steve Nash. However, Catriona Le May Doan got her chance when she alone relit the cauldron during the Closing Ceremony via the fourth arm, which was working then.
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.
In May 1934, the International Olympic Committee gave its approval to the idea of transporting a flame from Greece to Berlin. The idea came from Carl Diem, Secretary General of the Organising Committee of the Games of the XI Olympiad.
The route passed through the capitals of each of the countries visited.
On 20 July 1936 in Olympia, for this first Olympic torch relay, it was already a parabolic mirror which concentrated the rays of the sun that was used to light the flame. In attendance, Baron Pierre de Coubertin gave a message to the torchbearers, wishing them an enjoyable run. At the same time as the ceremony in Olympia, festivities were also staged in front of the Town Hall in Berlin.
On 2 August, a flame was lit from that in the Olympic Stadium. It arrived in Kiel the next day, following a relay of 347 km with 347 torchbearers. It burned on a boat in the city’s bay, where the sailing events were held.
On 7 August, another flame was lit from the cauldron in the Olympic Stadium and carried to Grünau, the site of the rowing and canoe events. One hundred and ninety one groups of runners consisting of one torchbearer and two supporters each ran one after the other over 37 km.
The flame was “symbolic” rather than “Olympic”, as it was not lit at Olympia. The route of the relay was designed to commemorate the origins of skiing.
It was at the house of Sondre Norheim, a Norwegian skiing legend of the 19th century, that Olav Bjaaland, one of the members of the 1911 South Pole expedition, kindled at Morgedal (county of Telemark) a “symbolic Nordic” flame. This was a way of recalling that torches had long been used in Norway to allow skiers to see their way in the dark. In addition, the county of Telemark, and Morgedal in particular, were regarded as the cradle of slalom and ski jumping. Indeed, some of the great names in Norwegian skiing had come from there, like the Svalastoga and Hemmestveit brothers. The latter had created the world’s first ski school, in Oslo. Modern competition skis are also based on the skis from Telemark.
On the same day, the torch was carried to the monument to Sondre Norheim in Morgedal. The next day, it was taken to the house of Birger Ruud, a famous Norwegian skier; and on the following day to the Huseby hill, a former competition venue west of Oslo.
At the Opening Ceremony, the last torchbearer, Eigil Nansen, carried the torch around the Bislett Stadium on skis before removing them and climbing the stairs to light the cauldron, where the flame would burn throughout the Games.
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.
A relay precedes the arrival of the flame at its final destination: the Olympic stadium in the host
city of the Olympic Games. The Organising committee of the Olympic Games is responsible
for bringing the Olympic flame to the Olympic stadium (Olympic Charter, Rule 54). When the
flame finally arrives at its destination, the final torchbearer(s) run into the stadium
to light the Olympic cauldron with the flame, which remains lit for the duration of the Games
and is extinguished only at the Closing Ceremony of the Games.
Like the messengers who proclaimed the sacred Olympic truce, the runners who carry the
Olympic flame carry a message of peace on their journey.
In a Europe sorely afflicted by the war, the 1948 relay carried a welcome message of peace. The first runner, Corporal Dimitrelis, took off his military uniform before carrying the flame, commemorating the sacred truce observed in Ancient Greece. The planned route highlighted border crossings, where festivities were organised to celebrate the return of peace. In homage to the restorer of the Olympic Games, the relay passed through Lausanne, Switzerland and a ceremony was organised at Pierre de Coubertin‟s tomb in the Bois-de-Vaux cemetery.
The relay shone the spotlight on the two poles of classical civilisation: Athens and Rome. Lesser-known ancient sites in Greece and Italy were thus brought to the public‟s attention. For the first time, the relay was televised and the event closely followed by the media.
The relay retraced the steps of Christopher Columbus to the New World. The idea was to underline the link between Mediterranean and Latin-American civilisations and between ancient (Greco-Latin) and Pre-Hispanic civilisations. A direct descendant of the great navigator, Cristóbal Colón de Carbajal, was the last runner on Spanish soil. The Olympic flame made a stop at the Great Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacan. A “New Fire” ceremony was organised which, in the Aztec tradition, was celebrated to mark the end of a 52-year cycle. The reappearance of the sun at dawn symbolised the renewal of the world.
The relay showcased the traditions of Korea. Its route, which was a zigzag from east to west, symbolised the harmony to be found in the balance between two opposite poles. Some of the torchbearers did not wear the official uniform provided by the Games Organising Committee, but instead wore regional or traditional costumes.
The relay had a twofold goal: to situate Australia within Oceania and to promote the culture and heritage of the different regions in the country. The Torch relay visited 12 Oceanic countries before it arrived in Australia. The start of the relay on the Australian continent was in the “red centre” at Uluru (Ayer‟s Rock), a sacred site for the indigenous population. The Aboriginal athlete Nova Peris-Kneebone, Olympic field hockey champion, was the first runner in the relay. The enthusiasm of the crowd along the relay route grew bigger and bigger. One million spectators welcomed the arrival of the flame in Sydney. In a ceremony which recalled the elements used in the design of the torch (fire, water, earth), Cathy Freeman “walked on water” before lighting a circle of fire which revealed itself to be the monumental cauldron.
The flame was lit in Olympia and transported by air to Athens. On 8 May 1984, it began its journey on American soil. In New York, opposite the United Nations headquarters, Gina Hemphill and Bill Thorpe Jr., respectively the granddaughter and grandson of two famous athletes, Jesse Owens and Jim Thorpe, ran the first kilometre together.
The relay crossed the United States from east to west, through 33 States and the District of Columbia.
On 28 July, in Los Angeles, Gina Hemphill was at the Games Opening Ceremony. She carried the flame inside the Stadium before passing it to decathlete Rafer Johnson. He then climbed up a staircase to a tube that he ignited. The flame then followed the tube to the cauldron, lighting up the Olympic rings on the way.
After the flame-lighting ceremony in Olympia, a relay takes it to Platanos (~6km) on foot, and it then travels by coach to Andravida airport and, finally, by plane to Athens. At midnight, the flame leaves Athens and is flown to Langley (Virginia, United States), with a stopover in Shannon, Ireland.
In the United States, the relay route was designed to retrace the American Revolution Bicentennial Trail. It started not far from where the first English settlers had landed in the New World, then passed through various sites of historical importance and big cities such as the capital, Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia.
On 31 January 1980, despite a heavy snowstorm, the flame reached American soil on schedule at the Langley military base in Virginia, in front of several thousand people.
On 6 February, the flame reached Albany. Here, the relay split in two: one route went west through the Adirondack Mountains, the other east up the Champlain valley.
On 8 February, the two flames were reunited at Lake Placid. A welcome ceremony was held at the speed skating stadium.
After the flame-lighting ceremony which took place at Olympia and a relay of approximately one week through Greece, the route on Russian soil began on 7 October 2013 in Moscow. From October 2013 to February 2014, it travelled through the 83 regions of the Russian Federation and visited major historic, cultural and natural sites in the country. To cover the large distances between the various stages of the Relay, a motorcade was used until St Petersburg, a special plane between St Petersburg and Vladivostok, and a special train in the southern part of the country.
At the end of October 2013, in parallel to the main Relay, an Olympic flame reached the highest point of Mount Elbrus, where a cauldron was lit 5,652m above sea level.
On 9 November, an unlit Olympic torch was taken into open space for the first time. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky had the honor of going out of the International Space Station (ISS) and passing the torch in space.
On 23 November, the torch was carried 13 metres down into the depths of Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, thanks to a specially designed burner, similar to the pyrotechnical devices used as warning signals at sea.
At the Opening Ceremony, the flame was successively relayed in the Stadium by four Russian athletes who had shone at the Olympic Games: Maria Sharapova, Yelena Isinbaeva, Aleksandr Karelin and Alina Kabaeva. Then, two other eminent Olympians, Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak carried it to the cauldron located outside the Stadium and proceeded to light it.
For the first time and to celebrate the return of the Olympic Games to their country of origin, a “global” torch relay was organised. Before returning to Greece, it travelled across the five continents in reference to the five Olympic rings. The flame passed by all the cities that had hosted the Games since 1896, as well as other cities in the world that occupied a significant place in terms of sport, history and culture.
After the lighting ceremony which was held in Olympia on 25 March, the day of the 108th anniversary of the revival of the modern Olympic Games, a seven-day relay began across Greece, the last stage being the celebration at the Panathenaic Stadium. The flame stayed there for 64 days, burning in a special cauldron. It was only on 2 June that it was taken to Athens International Airport to fly to Sydney, host of the Games four years earlier. Cathy Freeman, Australian 400m gold medallist, kicked off the international relay on 4 June in Sydney.
The flame then headed to Melbourne, Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Delhi, Cairo and Cape Town, where it made its first journey on African soil. It then crossed the Atlantic to visit Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Los Angeles, St Louis, Atlanta and New York. After Montreal, the flame came back to Europe and visited Antwerp, Brussels, Amsterdam, Geneva, Lausanne, Paris, London, Barcelona, Rome, Munich, Berlin, Stockholm, Helsinki, and finally Moscow, Kiev, Istanbul, Sofia and Nicosia.
On 9 July, the flame returned to Greece to embark on the last phase of the relay from Heraklion in Crete. The second part of the Greek relay lasted 36 days, visiting 54 prefectures, 32 islands and 24 archaeological and historical sites. It ended on 13 August with the lighting of the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Games held in the Athens Olympic Stadium.
The route focused on various sports centres in France, and the relay passed through the Jura and Vosges mountains, the Massif Central, the Pyrenees and the Alps, with a stop at Chamonix, host of the first ever Olympic Winter Games.
Lit in Olympia, the flame is taken to Mount Olympus, where a ceremony is held in its honour. It then reaches Athens and is flown to Paris. On 19 December 1967, it was Jean Vuarnet, a gold medallist at the Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, who received the flame when it arrived at Paris-Orly airport. The first torchbearer in France was Alain Mimoun, a gold medal-winning distance runner at the 1956 Games in Melbourne and three-time Olympic silver medallist (London 1948 and Helsinki 1952).
At the Opening Ceremony, the organisers added a unique final touch to the relay by placing a microphone on the chest of the last runner, Alain Calmat. His heartbeat could be heard throughout the stadium as he climbed the steps towards the Olympic cauldron.
After being lit in Olympia, the flame travels by car to Athens and remains overnight at the headquarters of the Hellenic Olympic Committee.
On 23 January 1964, 16 relay runners take it to Hellenikon airport, from where it leaves for Vienna.
On 24 January, the flame arrived in Innsbruck by air from Vienna. It was on show to the public in the Maximilian Saal of the Imperial Palace, famous for its balcony with the Golden Roof, a symbol of the city entirely covered in gold tiles.
On 29 January, a group of athletes drove the flame to the Bergisel ski jump. From there, it was transferred using a piece of Greek wood from the safety lamp to the torch. At the Opening Ceremony, Alpine skier Christl Staffner passed the torch to Josl Rieder, who lit the cauldron. At the same time, a second cauldron was lit in front of the Ice Stadium.
Following its lighting in Olympia and a relay on Greek soil to Athens, the flame travelled by air to Australia, with stopovers along the way in Istanbul, Basra, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta and Darwin.
From Darwin, where a reception was held, the flame was then sent by plane to Cairns, in Queensland, north-eastern Australia. After a risky landing due to low-lying clouds which made visibility difficult, the relay on the ground in Australia started on 9 November. The first torchbearer was an Australian-born individual of Greek heritage, while the second torchbearer, Anthony Mark, was an Aboriginal Australian. The relay covered the East Coast, passing through cities such as Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and finally Melbourne.
21 November: Before arriving in Melbourne, the flame passed through Ballarat, the city hosting the rowing and canoe events. Using the torch, the Mayor kindled a flame in a miniature replica of the Main Stadium’s cauldron. It burned until the closing of the Games.
The next day, the flame arrived in Melbourne, and the last torchbearer, after having done a lap of the Main Stadium, climbed the 85 steps that led up to the cauldron and lit it at 4.20 p.m during the Opening Ceremony.
After its lighting in Olympia, the flame was transported by relay in Greece to Athens, reaching there on 15 July. The organisers worked out a special system to transmit the Olympic flame from Greece to Canada. On the same evening that the flame arrived in Athens, at a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium, the Olympic flame was placed next to a sensor, which captured the ionised particles. Transformed into coded impulses, they were then relayed by satellite to Ottawa.
In Ottawa, the time difference meant that it was only early afternoon when a laser beam reflected in a parabolic mirror gave back the flame its original form and lit a cauldron located on Parliament Hill. For the first kilometre on Canadian soil, 12 runners who represented the 10 provinces and two territories of Canada at that time each carried a torch with the flame. They came together at the same time as they passed it on the 13th torchbearer.
Between Ottawa and Montreal, the relay travelled along the Ottawa River passing successively from one bank to the other. The flame arrived in Montreal on 16 July and burned during the night in a cauldron at the top of Mount Royal.
On 16 July, on the road that took the flame to Montreal, a second convoy was formed in Pincourt to take a flame over a distance of about 300 km to Kingston, venue for the sailing competitions. It was first taken by car to Cornwall where it spent the night and then, the next day it was conveyed by foot and various modes of transport, from bicycle to Native American canoes.
After being lit in Olympia, the flame was conveyed to Athens and then to Tokyo where it arrived via plane on 23 December 1997. It was on show from 27 to 30 December in the Ginza area and from 31 December to 4 January in the Yoyogi Athletic Park.
On 4 January 1998, at a ceremony in the Yoyogi Athletic Park, the flame was split into three and taken by plane to three destinations: 1) the Eastern Japan route, starting from Hokkaido, 2) the Pacific Ocean route, starting from Kagoshima, and 3) the Sea of Japan route, starting from Okinawa.
On 23 January, the three flames entered Nagano Prefecture from the north, south and east, and continued their separate routes.
On 5 February, the three flames arrived in Nagano and on the following day, in Central Square, a ceremony was held in which they were reunited.
The flame also lit secondary cauldrons installed at the competition venues in Hakuba, Yamanouchi, Nozawa Onsen and Karuizawa, where it burned throughout the Games.
No fewer than 10 cauldrons were made for these Games: a main cauldron in Albertville, 8 metres high, 4.7 metres in diameter and weighing 1,300 kg, including the burners; plus nine smaller cauldrons for the other Olympic venues. During the Games, the main cauldron, atop a 23-metre mast, was placed at the edge of the Ceremonial Stadium. After the Games, it was moved to the Henry Dujol Olympic Park in Albertville. Like the torch, the cauldron was designed by Philippe Starck, based on the corolla of a lily flower.
A similar torch to Melbourne, but shorter, was used for the Stockholm relay
This was the first torch relay in the history of the Olympic Winter Games. Symbolic fires were lit for the Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936 and St Moritz in 1948. However, these fires were not brought by relay.
Traditionally, relays have been carried out on foot (for Berlin 1936, London 1948 and Moscow 1980 the relays were entirely run in this way). Although at the beginning, runners were mainly selected from amongst athletes, gradually the general public began to participate as well. As the celebration of the Olympic Games has evolved, so has the Olympic torch relay. The modes of transport have slowly become more and more diversified, not only for practical reasons, but also to showcase the particularities of the regions crossed.
Legendary Norwegian skiers (or their descendants) carried out the entirety of the transport of the flame (Oslo 1952). The flame went into the Arctic Circle at Inuvik, with stages carried out by snow-bike and skidoo (Calgary 1988), the flame has also visited Alert, the northernmost permanently inhabited community in the world (Vancouver 2010).
In the sea off Veracruz, Mexico, swimmers carried the flame from the boat Durango to the shore (Mexico 1968). A diver swam across the port of Marseilles holding the flame out of the water (Grenoble 1968). The flame travelled on the frigate Cataluña for the passage between Greece and Spain and arrived on Spanish soil in Empuries, the gateway to Greek civilisation on the Iberian peninsular (circa 600 B.C.) (Barcelona 1992). A diver even carried the flame under water at the Great Barrier Reef (Sydney 2000). In Venise, a Gondola was used to cross the Canal Grande (Torino 2006) and for the 2010 relay, the flame was carried by a surfer (Vancouver 2010).
The flame made its first trip in an aeroplane (Oslo 1952). It later traveled faster than the speed of sound on its journey from Athens to Paris – aboard the Concorde! (Albertville 1992). The wonders of technology were highlighted when the Canadians organized the transmission of the flame by satellite between Athens and Ottawa (Montreal 1976). For the first time in the history of the Olympics, the transfer of the flame took place between two parachute jumpers (Lillehammer 1994). It also made an impressive entry at the opening ceremony of the Games, carried by a ski jumper during his actual jump! (Lillehammer 1994). The torch (but not the flame) was carried into space by astronauts (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000).
To mark the fact that the equestrian events were held separately from the other Olympic events, the torchbearers for the journey of the flame from Kastrup (Denmark) to Stockholm carried the flame entirely on horseback (Melbourne/Stockholm 1956). Horses played a special role again when the history of the Pony express was featured as a part of a torch relay (Atlanta 1996). They were replaced by camels when the flame crossed the Australian desert (Sydney 2000).
For the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, the modes of transport that were used bring to mind great moments in American history. For example, the flame traveled in an Indian canoe, on a Mississippi steamboat, and on a wagon of the Union Pacific (the first transcontinental railroad) (Atlanta 1996).
It was for the Rome 1960 Games that the relay was televised for the first time.
Due to the fact that the equestrian events could not be held in Melbourne because of Australian quarantine regulations, an additional relay took place between Olympia and Stockholm where these events were staged in June 1956. This was the only time that for the same edition of the Summer Games, two Olympic flames were lit in the same year.
Did you know?
Six metres tall and on a 25-metre base, the cauldron had a burner at a 30 degree incline so that the flame was visible throughout the stadium. The fuel used was natural gas. The aim was to produce a modern version of a traditional Japanese kagaribi bonfire.
The cauldron, measuring 8.5 metres high, was made in the form of a flower made from copper petals. Each of these petals, brought in by a participating nation, was meant to bloom during the Games. After the Games, a petal was given to each participating country as a souvenir of the sporting achievements of their athletes. On the petal the name of the country was engraved.
This was the first time that it was an Olympic flame, lit in Olympia in Greece, which was used for the Winter Games.
Salt Lake City 2002
Los Angeles 1984
Lake Placid 1980
Squaw Valley 1960
Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956