Background Information of the Olympic Torch Relay
Updated：2008-05-20 11:15 | Source：BOCOG
February 1980: Actress Maria Moscholiou of the National Greek Theatre,
dressed in an ancient Greek tunic, lights the Olympic Flame at Olympia.
After the ceremony the flame is flown to Lake Placid in New York State
for the 13th Winter Olympics Games. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
The Olympic Flame and the Way of Kindling
The Olympic flame is the flame which is kindled in Olympia under the authority of the IOC. It is bestowed by Apollo, the ancient god of sun. It is the highest ideal of the Olympic spirit, representing hope and dreams, sunshine and happiness, friendship, peace and equality.
The lighting of the Olympic flame takes place a few months before the opening of the Olympic Games in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece. The lighting of the Flame follows the tradition of ancient Greece. The high priestess prays loudly to praise Apollo, the ancient god of sun before the Temple of Hera. Then, the flame is lit according to an ancient method, using the sun and a concave recipient (a parabolic mirror). The sun's rays, concentrated at the centre of the recipient, causes an intense heat, which allows a flame to be obtained. This is the only way to light the Olympic flame. The flame obtained in this way is put into an urn and carried by the high priestess to the ancient stadium and passed to the first runner, who carries the official torch of the Games and starts the relay to the host city of the Olympic Games.
In order to guarantee the purity of the Olympic flame, the flame obtained only in this way can be used throughout the conduct of the torch relay. It may not be combined with any other symbolic fire nor can it be separated for more than one torch relay.
The leather handle features a metallic ring and the caption "Games of the XXIII Olympiad Los Angeles 1984" with the Olympic motto "Citius Altius Fortius" and the picture of the Memorial Coliseum.
The leather handle features a metallic ring and the caption "Games of
the XXIII Olympiad Los Angeles 1984" with the Olympic motto "Citius
Altius Fortius" and the picture of the Memorial Coliseum.
The Olympic Torch
An Olympic torch is a portable torch as approved by the IOC and intended for combustion of the Olympic flame.
The torch is the carrier of the Olympic flame. For each edition of the Games, a new model of torch is created. It must conform to exacting technical standards. It has become an important heritage of the Olympic Games. During the relay, the flame must never go out. The torch must be able to stand up to difficult weather conditions (such as wind, rain, snow and extreme heat) and the most unusual modes of transport. With the development of science and technology, the torch becomes lighter and the burning system more convenient and improved. Usually, the fuel cartridge is placed inside the torch and is designed to sustain a flame for 15-20 minutes.
The Safety Lantern
In order to keep the dignity and purity of the Olympic flame, the flame shall not go out during the relay and be kept properly. Once it goes out, it must be kindled with the mother flame that is kept in the safety lantern.
The Portable Cauldron
The portable Olympic cauldron is designed to carry and display the Olympic flame at major community celebrations when it is lit at the end of each relay day or on featured transport modes such as a large boat. It is specially designed and should represent a synergy with the design of the Olympic Torch. It should be light weight and easily transportable along the relay route.
The torchbearer is the agent to carry the Olympic flame and spread the Olympic concept. On the basis of the Olympic principle of equality and fight against discrimination, the International Olympic Committee provides that every citizen competent to run the given distance with the torch has the opportunity to become a torchbearer.
To be a torchbearer has become a glory and honour. The torchbearers shall add glory to the Olympic flame with their own life story, and shall inspire and encourage the whole world with the image of holding high the Olympic torch. The torchbearers of past Olympic Games include people from all walks of life. Those people with disabilities are equally entitled to become torchbearers and convey the torch by wheelchair or other methods distinctive to their needs. The torchbearer is accompanied by the torch relay vehicle procession and escort runners. The identity of the final torchbearer is kept secret until the last moment. The final torchbearer does a lap of the stadium before lighting the monumental cauldron with the Olympic flame. Once it is lit, the Olympic Games officially begin.
Only the torchbearer is qualified and permitted to wear the torchbearer's uniform. He or she can obtain and possess the torch he or she carries either through buying or being presented as a gift.
The Theme of the Olympic Torch Relay
The torch relay shall be conducive to the showcasing of the torch relay theme, highlight the landscape and special features of the relay city and include the participation of the greatest number of people from the public.
Torch Relay Route
The route is the foundation of the torch relay. Once the relay scope is determined, the primary route locations are first determined. Then by connecting these locations, an entire relay itinerary is established. The selection of the torch relay route is not achieved by simply drawing a direct line between Olympia and the host city. The design of the torch relay route of past Olympic Games was aimed at showcasing to the greatest possible extent, the special features and hosting concept of each Olympic Games, spreading the Olympic spirit and showcasing the image and look of the host country.
Transferring the Olympic Flame
The basic method of transferring the Olympic flame to the Opening Ceremony is from the hand of one torchbearer to that of another. The running portion of a torch relay normally lasts between 6 and 10 hours each day, and covers a distance of between 40 & 50 kilometres. The number of torchbearers and the distance covered varies with each Olympic Games. Each torchbearer usually covers a distance of between 200 & 400 meters and approximately 100-200 torchbearers participate in the torch relay each day. The first torch is lit each day from the 'mother flame' which is obtained from the lighting ceremony in Olympia and kept in a special safety lantern throughout the journey from Olympia to the Opening Ceremony. Each torchbearer runs a leg of the relay carrying the torch in their hand and kindles the flame of the next torchbearer's torch. The relay goes on until it arrives at the final site of the day for a celebration and gala ceremony.
In accordance with Olympic protocol, the celebration and gala ceremony at the end of each relay day is simple but ceremonious and usually lasts for approximately one hour. During the ceremony, speeches are made by the torchbearer that lights the portable cauldron at the end of the day, by the representative from the host city of the torch relay celebration and by the representative from the Olympic Organizing Committee. A torch relay promotional film is shown and artistic performances with local cultural features are performed on stage. At the end of the torch relay celebration, the Olympic flame is transferred from the portable cauldron to the safety lantern and kept there until the commencement of the next day when the flame of the first torch is kindled from this 'mother flame'.
In order to keep the dignity and purity of the Olympic flame, the flame shall not go out during the relay and be kept burning properly throughout the day. If the flame of a torch is extinguished for one reason or another, it must be re-kindled from the 'mother flame' kept within the safety lantern.
The Igniting and the Extinguishing of the Monumental Cauldron
The highlight of the opening ceremony of the Olympics is the entrance of the Olympic flame into the stadium. The identity of the final torchbearer is kept secret until the very last moment. It is often a personality from the sports world or a young person symbolising hope for the future. The final torchbearer completes a lap of the stadium before lighting the monumental cauldron with the Olympic flame.
A symbolic release of pigeons evokes the climate of peace in which the Olympic Games should take place. The flame remains lit for the duration of the Games and is only extinguished at the closing ceremony.
Editor : Shi Taoyang