Route design and details
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.
Length: 55 cm (only the tube)
Fuel: Priming and smoke-producing powder. Main components of fuel: red phosphorus, manganese dioxide, magnesium and wood meal.
The burning time was 10 minutes for the torches carried by runners and 14 minutes for those used in cars.
Designer / Manufacturer: Munemichi Yanagi / Nikkei Yanagi
Did you know? The safety lamp’s fuel was pure kerosene, and it could burn for 48 hours nonstop. A protection system featuring an air cushion was incorporated to protect it from violent impacts when it was being transported by car.
IOCStart date: 28 December 1971, Olympia (Greece)
End date: 3 February 1972, Makomanai Speed Skating Rink, Sapporo (Japan).
First torchbearer: Yiannis Kirkilessis. He was also the first torchbearer in Greece for the relay of the 1972 Summer Games in Munich.
Last torchbearer: Hideki Takada, a 16-year-old high school pupil from Sapporo
Number of torchbearers: ~16,300 in total
Recruitment of torchbearers: For the relay in Japan, only boys and girls aged between 11 and 20.
The last two torchbearers were chosen by the Vice-President of the Organising Committee, Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda, who was an IOC member from 1967 to 1981 and then an honorary member.
Distance: 18,741 km
335 km in Greece, 66 km on Okinawa Island, 4,754 km in Japan and 13,586 km by plane and boat.
Countries visited: Greece, Okinawa (then under US administration), Japan
Did you know?
- The main cauldron which overlooked the Makomanai Speed Skating Rink was made of bronze with a coating of dusty gold. It was asymmetrical, measuring 2.78 by 2.18 metres, and was 2.98 metres high. It was fuelled by propane. Like the torch, it was designed by Munemichi Yanagi.
- After the Opening Ceremony, Olympic flames were taken to the competition venues at Mount Teine and Mount Eniwa. There, they burned in auxiliary cauldrons during the competitions.