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Modern Olympic Games

Olympic Games - Olympic flame

Olympic flame

 

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 The flame

Starting point…

It all begins in Olympia, Greece…
A few months before the opening of the Olympic Games, a ceremony is organised on the original site of the Games, the ancient sanctuary of Olympia.

Lighting of the flame

The flame is lit in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera, by actresses playing the part of priestesses. The choreography and costumes used in the ceremony are based on those of Antiquity.
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, cause an intense heat which allows a flame to be obtained.
The high priestess responsible for this operation then passes the flame to the first runner who carries the official torch of the Games.
The Olympic flame can only be lit in this way.

Relay

The flame is carried by relay all the way to its final destination. Although it is usually carried by runners on foot, other modes of transport are also used — bicycle, car, train, horse, boat, canoe, etc. For air transportation, the flame is sheltered in a security lamp, similar to a miner’s lamp. At night time, it is kept in special cauldrons.
All along its route, the flame heralds the Olympic Games and transmits a message of peace and fraternity amongst peoples.

Arrival in the host city of the games, somewhere in the world

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 (always a citizen of the host country of the Games) is kept secret until the last moment. It is often a personality from the sports world or a young person symbolising hope for the future.
The final torchbearer does 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.

Symbolism of fire

Fire has always played a very important role in the life of Man. Its mastery and use figure among the most important achievements of humanity. The place of fire in the beliefs of most ethnic groups is proof of this.
The Ancient Greeks, for example, explained the presence of fire on earth through the myth of Prometheus.
The divine origin of fire made it a sacred element and the Greeks maintained perpetual fires in front of their principal temples. The purity of this fire was guaranteed by the technique used to light it — the flame was obtained by the sun’s rays captured at the centre of a recipient called a skaphia (the ancestor of the parabolic mirror used today for lighting the Olympic flame).

Fire in Olympia

In the sanctuary of Olympia, where the Ancient Olympic Games took place, a flame
burned permanently on the altar of the goddess Hestia, situated in the Prytaneum
(building used for the large banquets held in honour of the athletes at the end of
the Games). Also obtained from the heat of the sun’s rays, this fire was used to light
the other fires of the sanctuary.
Such fires were lit on the altars of Zeus and Hera, situated in front of their temples.
To honour these gods, animal sacrifices were made in the same place. Today, nothing
remains of the altars, but the present ceremony for the lighting of the Olympic flame
in front of the temple of Hera acts as a reminder of these events.
Prometheus - stole fire from the gods to give to Man. As a punishment, he was chained to a rock by Zeus, father of the gods. Every day, an eagle came to devour his liver, which grew back every night. Prometheus defied the gods with his theft of fire but by the same act he revealed the secrets of knowledge and the human spirit to Man.
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Hera — (Roman name Juno), sister and wife of Zeus, she reigned with him. In Olympia, her cult was probably linked to that of another, older goddess of fertility. Hera herself was associated with birth.
 
Hestia — (Roman name Vesta) goddess of the hearth, a virgin. In the Roman religion, the Vestals were the guardians of the city’s fire.
 
Zeus — (Roman name Jupiter) father of the gods of Olympia, he brought order and justice to the world. The Games in Olympia and Nemea were held in his honour.
 
lampadedromia — a Greek word for ancient torch relays. These were part of religious, rather than sporting, ceremonies.
 
Elis — The sanctuary of Olympia was situated on the territory of the city of Elis, some 50 km to the north.

 

 

 

The relay in antiquity

In Athens, flame races (lampadedromia) were organised to honour certain gods, including Prometheus. These races commemorated Prometheus’s act of stealing fire, thus bringing wisdom and knowledge to Man. The flame was transmitted by runners and the first competitor to arrive at the altar of the god had the honour of renewing its fire.

Heralds of the sacred truce

Flame-carrying relays or races were never organised for the Panhellenic Games (Games organised in Olympia, Nemea, Delphi and Isthmia). [see sheets “The Games of Antiquity”]. However, a set time before the start of the Games, messengers wearing olive crowns left Elis to announce in other cities the exact date of competitions. They invited the citizens to come to Olympia and proclaimed the sacred truce (ekecheiria), that is, the obligation to halt combats during the period of the Games. In this way, the athletes and spectators could travel without fear to Olympia.

The flame and relay today

In the context of the modern Games, the Olympic flame is a manifestation of the positive values that Man has always associated with fire. Like the messengers who proclaimed the sacred truce, the runners who carry the Olympic flame encourage the whole world to put down their weapons and turn towards the Games. 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.

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Lighting the Berlin Games - London 2012 Olympics: torch relay origins have shady Nazi roots
The Berlin Games are lit in 1936 - it was the first time the relay was used 
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Olympic flame

 

The Olympic flame is a symbol of the Olympic Games.Commemorating the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus, its origins lie in ancient Greece, where a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics.

Nazis hold First Olympic Torch Relay > On 20 July 1936, the Olympic Flame was first kindled at Olympia, Greece. The High Priestess Koula Pratsika lit the torch of the first bearer Kostas Kondylis. The flame reached Berlin 11 days later after passing through the hand of 3,840 torch-bearers.

It was not the first time that fire was used to “illuminate” the modern Olympics. In fact, in the 1928 Olympics Dutch architect Jan Wils had included a tower in designing the Stadium and decided to have a fire burn throughout the Games. Therefore, on 28 July 1928 an employee of the Amsterdam Electricity Board lit the first Olympic flame in the “Marathontower”. For the residents of Amsterdam the tower became known as the “KLM Ashtray”.

But the first torch relay was the inspiration of Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda. The Olympics had been awarded to Germany before Hitler came to power, but the Games were cut to measure for the Nazi propaganda machine.

A year before the Olympics, in August 1935, the Greek conservative newspaper “Estia” carried a full-page article entitled “Olympic Flame: An Excellent Idea by Dr Goebbels”. History has fudged this. Due to a reluctance to remember Goebbels as the father of the flame, the authorship of the inspiration was sought in the person of Carl Diem, a senior officer of the German Olympic Movement.

The website of the Greek Olympic Committee states: The lighting of the Olympic Flame and the torch relay were originally held in 1936 on the occasion of the Berlin Olympic Games. Conceived by German academic and National Olympic Committee member Dr Carl Diem, these ceremonial events were submitted by the same man to the Organising Committee for the XI Olympic Games for approval and subsequently adopted. The IOC’s site is even more Spartan in its description.

At the Olympic Museum at Olympia, a special place is afforded for the memorabilia of those Games and special honour is paid to Diem as the inspirer of the torch relay, naming him an “Olympian” professor.

But it comes as a surprise that the flame and the torch-bearing ceremony are no longer seen as part of Nazi propaganda. At the time, the French newspaper “Paris Soir” characterised the Berlin Olympics as a “religious ceremony”. As Greek historian Ioannis Loukas notes: “This whole relay… of the ‘holy flame’ had tremendous significance for German propaganda that had presented the Olympics as a ‘war confrontation’ … The Olympic Flame swept through Germany in national-socialist popular frenzy, suitably organised by Goebbel’s Reichsportsfuhrer Tschammer und Osten, youth organisations, sports clubs and the SS.”

It was Helene Bertha Amalie “Leni” Riefenstahl, the Third Reich’s official filmmaker, who undertook to realise the ideas of Goebbels and Diem, under close supervision of the Propaganda Ministry at that time. Riefenstahl guided the ‘priestesses’ through their paces on 20 July 1936. Another small detail: the torch seen carried in the above photo, was a gift from munitions and armaments manufacturer Krupp, while the reflector was made by the Zeiss optics firm.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics, had said on the occasion of the closing ceremonies of the 1936 Olympics: “Keep the holy flame alight… The memories of courage will remain unextinguished, since courage was necessary to face the difficulties that the Fuhrer had countered with the slogan Wir Wollen Baueun (We want to build)… Let the German people and its leader be blessed, for the things that were just realised.”

The fire was introduced at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, and it has been part of the modern Olympic Games ever since.

In contrast to the Olympic flame proper, the torch relay of modern times, which transports the flame from Greece to the various designated sites of the games, had no ancient precedent and was introduced by Carl Diem at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

 
 

Olympic fire in Berlin, 1936

 


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Paavo Nurmi, lighting the Olympic flame in Helsinki in 1952

The Olympic Torch today is ignited several months before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games at the site of the ancient Olympics in Olympia, Greece. Eleven women, representing the Vestal Virgins,[notes 1] perform a celebration at the Temple of Hera in which the torch is kindled by the light of the Sun, its rays concentrated by a parabolic mirror. The torch briefly travels around Greece via short relay, and then starts its transfer to the host city after a ceremony in the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens.

The Olympic Torch Relay ends on the day of the opening ceremony in the central stadium of the Games. The final carrier is often kept unannounced until the last moment, and is usually a sports celebrity of the host country. The final bearer of the torch runs towards the cauldron, often placed at the top of a grand staircase, and then uses the torch to start the flame in the arena. It is considered to be a great honor to be asked to light the Olympic flame. After being lit, the flame continues to burn throughout the Games, until the day of the closing ceremony and celebration, when it is finally put out, symbolizing the official end of the Games.

History

 

Ancient Olympics

In the time of the original games within the boundaries of Olympia, the altar of the sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Hestia maintained a continuous flame. For the ancient Greeks, fire had divine connotations—it was thought to have been stolen from the gods by Prometheus. Therefore, fire was also present at many of the sanctuaries in Olympia, Greece. During the Olympic Games, which honoured Zeus, additional fires were lit at his temple and that of his wife, Hera. The modern Olympic flame is ignited at the site where the temple of Hestia used to stand.

Modern era

The tradition was reintroduced during the 1928 Games. An employee of the Electric Utility of Amsterdam lit the first Olympic flame in the Marathon Tower of the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. The modern convention of moving the Olympic flame via a relay system from Greece to the Olympic venue began in 1936 in Germany. Carl Diem devised the idea of the torch relay for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin that was organized by the Nazis under the guidance of Joseph Goebbels. The Krupp armaments company produced the torches in wood and metal, inspired by an olive leaf. The Olympic flame was lit by a concave mirror in Olympia, Greece and transported over 3,187 kilometres by 3,331 runners in twelve days and eleven nights from Greece to Berlin. Leni Riefenstahl later staged the torch relay for the 1938 film Olympia. Contingent on the audience, some may have comprehended the film as part of the Nazi propaganda machine's attempt to add myth and mystique to Adolf Hitler's regime. Hitler saw the link with the ancient Games as the perfect way to illustrate his belief that classical Greece was an Aryan forerunner of the modern German Reich. There were minor protests in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia on the way, which were suppressed by the local security forces.

Although most of the time the torch with the Olympic flame is still carried by runners, it has been transported in many different ways. The fire travelled by boat in 1948 and 2012 to cross the English Channel and was carried by rowers in Canberra as well as by dragon boat in Hong Kong in 2008, and it was first transported by airplane in 1952, when the fire travelled to Helsinki. In 1956, all carriers in the torch relay to Stockholm, where the equestrian events were held instead of in Melbourne, travelled on horseback. Remarkable means of transportation were used in 1976, when the flame was transformed to a radio signal. From Athens, this signal was transmitted by satellite to Canada, where it was received and used to trigger a laser beam to re-light the flame. This distinctive 1976 torch was manufactured by John L. Saksun's The Queensway Machine Products Ltd. In 2000, the torch was carried under the water by divers near the Great Barrier Reef. Other unique means of transportation include a Native American canoe, a camel, and Concorde. In 2004, the first global torch relay was undertaken, a journey that lasted 78 days. The Olympic flame covered a distance of more than 78,000 km in the hands of some 11,300 torchbearers, travelling to Africa and South America for the first time, visiting all previous Olympic cities and finally returning to Athens for the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The climactic transfer of the flame from the torches to the cauldron at the host stadium concludes the relay and marks the symbolic commencement of the Games. Perhaps one of the most spectacular of these ceremonies took place at the 1992 Barcelona Games, when Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo ignited the cauldron by shooting a burning arrow over it, which ignited gas rising from the cauldron. Two years later, the Olympic fire was brought into the stadium of Lillehammer by a ski jumper. In Beijing 2008, Li Ning "ran" on air around the Bird's Nest and lit the flame. In Vancouver 2010, four athletes—Catriona Le May Doan, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash and Nancy Greene—were given the honour of lighting the flame simultaneously (indoors) before Wayne Gretzky transferred the flame to an outdoor cauldron at Vancouver's waterfront. Two years later, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, seven young athletes-Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds and Adelle Tracey were given the honour of lighting the flame on one of the 204 copper petals before they converged to form the cauldron for the Games.

 
 
The Marathon Tower at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, where the first modern Olympic flame burned at the 1928 Summer Olympics
 
 
At the end of the first Olympic torch relay, the Olympic flame arrives in Berlin, 193OLYMPIC_FLAME_2004.jpg
Greek Olympic medalist Niki Bakoyianni lights the Olympic torch in front of the columns of the Parthenon at the Acropolis August 12, 2004.

Lighters

 

Over the years, it has become a tradition to let famous athletes, former athletes and/or athletes with significant achievements and milestones be the last runner in the Olympic torch relay and have the honour of lighting the Olympic Cauldron. The first well-known athlete to light the cauldron in the stadium was ninefold Olympic Champion Paavo Nurmi, who excited the home crowd in Helsinki in 1952. Other famous last bearers of the torch include heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (1996), Australian aboriginal runner Cathy Freeman (2000), and ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky (2010).

On other occasions, the people who lit the cauldron in the stadium are not famous, but nevertheless symbolize Olympic ideals. Japanese runner Yoshinori Sakai was born in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, the day the nuclear weapon Little Boy destroyed that city. He symbolized the rebirth of Japan after the Second World War when he opened the 1964 Tokyo Games. At the 1976 Games in Montreal, two teenagers — one from the French-speaking part of the country, one from the English-speaking part — symbolized the unity of Canada. For the 2012 Games in London, seven aspiring young athletes — each nominated by a British Olympic hero — had the honour of lighting the cauldron.

In 1968, Enriqueta Basilio became the first woman to light the Olympic Cauldron at the Olympic Games in Mexico City.

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Greek Olympic wind-surfer Nikos Kaklamanakis lights the Olympic Flame during the opening ceremony

Routes

The Olympic torch travels routes that symbolise human achievement. As part of the 1976 relay the flame was transmitted from Greece to the New World via satellite. Heat sensors in Greece detected the flame, the signal was sent to Ottawa via satellite and there a laser beam lit the torch.The torch, but not the flame, was taken into space by astronauts in 1996, 2000 and 2013.

The 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay spanned all six inhabited continents before proceeding through China, but was met with protests in London, Paris, and San Francisco. As a result, in 2009, the International Olympic Committee announced that future torch relays could be held only within the country hosting the Olympics after the initial Greek leg. Although this rule took effect with the 2014 Winter Olympics, the organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London chose to hold their torch relays only in their respective hosting countries of Canada and the United Kingdom (except for brief stops in the United States and Ireland, respectively). The London 2012 torch travelled 8000 miles across the UK.

 

Torches

 

The design of the torch used in the relay to the Games changes for each Games. They may be designed to represent a classical ideal, or to represent some local aspect of those particular Games. Some, such as Albertville in 1992 and Turin in 2006 have been designed by famous industrial designers. These design-led torches have been less popular than the more classical designs, the Turin torch in particular was criticised for being simply too heavy for the runners. The torch for the 1948 London Olympics was designed by architect Ralph Lavers. They were cast in Hiduminium aluminium alloy with a length of 47 cm and a weight of 960 g. This classical design of a long handle capped by a cylindrical bowl re-appeared in many later torch designs. The torch used for the final entry to the stadium and the lighting of the cauldron was of a different design, also a feature that would re-appear in later years. This torch did not require the long distance duration or weather resistance of the other torches, but did need a spectacular flame for the opening ceremony. At the Melbourne Olympics of 1956, the magnesium/aluminium fuel used for the final torch was certainly spectacular, but also injured its holder. Runners were also burned by the solid-fueled torch for the 1968 Mexico Games. The fuel used for the torch has varied. Early torches used solid or liquid fuels, including olive oil.

For a particularly bright display, pyrotechnic compounds and even burning metals have been used. Since the Munich Games of 1972, most torches have instead used a liquefied gas such as propylene or a propane/butane mixture. These are easily stored, easily controlled and give a brightly luminous flame. The number of torches made has varied from, for example, 22 for Helsinki in 1952, 6,200 for the 1980 Moscow Games and 8,000 for the London 2012 Games. In transit, the flame sometimes travels by air. A version of the miner's safety lamp is used, kept alight in the air. These lamps are also used during the relay, as a back-up in case the primary torch goes out. This has happened before several Games, but the torch is simply re-lit and carries on. The torch has been carried across water. The 1968 Grenoble Winter Games was carried across the port of Marseilles by a diver holding it aloft above the water.

In 2000, an underwater flare was used by a diver across the Great Barrier Reef en route to the Sydney Games. In 2012 it was carried by boat across Bristol harbour in the UK and on the front of a London Underground train to Wimbledon. The latest torch was designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby for the 2012 London Games. Despite a deeply cynical response to the logo and mascots of the London Games, this torch design appears to have been well accepted in the UK and internationally.

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Rio 2016 torch

Protests

There have been protests against the Olympic flame relay. In the 1956 Melbourne Games in Australia, local veterinary student Barry Larkin protested against the relay when he tricked onlookers by carrying a fake flame, consisting of a pair of underpants set on fire in a plum pudding can, attached to a chair leg. He successfully managed to hand over the fake flame to the Mayor of Sydney, Pat Hills and escape without being noticed. In 2008 there were various attempts to stop the Olympic flame as a protest against China's human rights record. In London, a "ring of steel" was formed around the flame to protect it, but one protester managed to grab hold of the torch while it was being held by television presenter Konnie Huq.

Reigniting the flame

It is not uncommon for the Olympic flame to be accidentally or deliberately extinguished during the course of the relay, and on at least one occasion the cauldron itself has gone out during the Games. To guard against this eventuality, multiple copies of the flame are transported with the relay or maintained in backup locations. When a torch goes out, it is re-lit (or another torch is lit) from one of the backup sources. Thus, the fires contained in the torches and Olympic cauldrons all trace a common lineage back to the same Olympia lighting ceremony. One of the more memorable extinguishings occurred at the 1976 Summer Olympics held in Montreal, Canada. After a rainstorm doused the Olympic flame a few days after the games had opened, an official re-lit the flame using his cigarette lighter. Organizers quickly doused it again and relit it using a backup of the original flame.

 

At the 2004 Summer Olympics, when the Olympic flame came to the Panathinaiko Stadium to start the global torch relay, the night was very windy and the torch, lit by the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, blew out due to the wind, but was re-lit from the backup flame taken from the original ceremonial flame at Olympia. In 2008 the Olympic torch was extinguished at least two times by Chinese officials (five times according to French police) so that it could be transported in a bus amid protests while it was being paraded through Paris. This eventually led to the cancellation of the relay's last leg in the city. The flame itself, however, remained preserved in the back-up lantern used to keep it overnight and on airplanes, and the torch was relit using this. The currently designed torch has a safeguard built into it.

There are two flames inside the torch. There is a highly visible (yellow flame) portion which burns cooler and is more prone to extinguish in wind and rain, but there is also a smaller hotter (blue in the candle's wick) flame akin to a pilot light hidden inside the torch which is protected from wind and rain and is capable of relighting the cooler more visible portion if it is extinguished. The fuel inside the torch lasts approximately 15 minutes before the flame is exhausted.

In October 2013 in Russia, the Olympic flame was blown out at the Kremlin and was reignited from a security officer's lighter instead of the back up flame.

The Time They Used a Cigarette Lighter to Light the Olympic Torch

When it comes to the Olympic Flame, its keepers take no chances. Multiple backup sources are lit from the torch so that if the original goes out (which isn’t totally uncommon), it can be reignited using the same fire.

But what happens when the Flame goes out and the backups are nowhere to be found? That’s exactly what happened during the 1976 Montreal Summer Games.

Though Olympic Stadium had been constructed just for the Games, construction strikes halted progress on the building, leaving the roof and tower unfinished. In fact, patrons of Olympic Stadium didn’t have a proper roof over their heads until more than a decade later.

This proved problematic when an unexpected rainstorm hit a few days into the Games, extinguishing the unprotected Olympic Flame. No events were scheduled at that particular venue for the day, so the bearers of the backups were nowhere to be found. “Use what you got,” onsite plumber M. Pierre Bouchard must have figured, and pulled a cigarette lighter from his pocket.

When Olympic officials found out about the incident shortly thereafter, the not-so-distinguished Flame was put out and relit with a proper backup.

 

Cauldron

 

The cauldron and the pedestal are always the subject of unique and often dramatic design. These also tie in with how the cauldron is lit during the Opening Ceremony.

  • In Los Angeles in 1984, Rafer Johnson lit a wick of sorts at the top of the archway after having climbed a big flight of steps. The flame flared up a pipe, through the Olympic Rings and on up the side of the tower to ignite the cauldron.
  • In Barcelona in 1992, Antonio Rebollo, an archer, shot a flaming arrow over the cauldron to light it. Though Rebollo intentionally overshot the cauldron, his arrow still lit it by igniting the gas rising from the cauldron. This at least has always been the official version. Unofficial videos seem to indicate that the flame was lit from below. Twenty years after the Barcelona Games one of those involved said that the flame was "switched on" ("Se encendió con un botón", in Spanish).
  • In Atlanta in 1996, the cauldron was an artistic scroll decorated in red and gold. It was lit by boxing legend Muhammad Ali, using a mechanical, self-propelling fuse ball that transported the flame up a wire from the stadium to its cauldron. At the 1996 Summer Paralympics, the scroll was lit by paraplegic climber Mark Wellman, hoisting himself up a rope to the cauldron.
  • For the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Cathy Freeman walked across a circular pool of water and ignited the cauldron through the water, surrounding herself within a ring of fire. The planned spectacular climax to the ceremony was delayed by the technical glitch of a computer switch which malfunctioned, causing the sequence to shut down by giving a false reading. This meant that the Olympic flame was suspended in mid-air for about four minutes, rather than immediately rising up a water-covered ramp to the top of the stadium. When it was discovered what the problem was, the program was overridden and the cauldron continued up the ramp, where it finally rested on a tall silver pedestal.
  • For the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, the cauldron was lit by the members of the winning 1980 US hockey team. After being skated around the centre ice rink there in the stadium, the flame was carried up a staircase to the team members, who then lit a wick of sorts at the bottom of the cauldron tower which set off a line of flames that travelled up inside the tower until it reached the cauldron at the top which ignited. This cauldron was the first to use glass and incorporated running water to prevent the glass from heating and to keep it clean.
  • For the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the cauldron was in the shape of a giant olive leaf which bowed down to accept the flame from windsurfer Nikolaos Kaklamanakis.
  • In the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Stefania Belmondo placed the flame on an arched lighting apparatus, which initiated a series of fireworks before lighting the top of the 57 metres (187 ft) high Olympic cauldron, the highest in the history of the Winter Olympic Games.
  • In the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the cauldron resembled the end of a scroll that lifted out from the stadium rim and spiralled upwards. It was lit by Li Ning, a Chinese gymnast who was raised to the rim of the stadium by wires. He ran around the rim of the stadium while suspended and as he ran, an unrolling scroll was projected showing film clips of the flame's journey around the world. As he approached the cauldron, he lit an enormous wick, which then transferred the flame to the cauldron. The flame then spiralled up the structure of the cauldron before lighting it at the top.
  • In the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, athletes Catriona Le May Doan, Steve Nash, Nancy Greene and Wayne Gretzky were to simultaneously light the base of poles, which would then carry the flames upwards to the cauldron. However, only three out of four poles came out of the ground due to mechanical problems, resulting in inadvertently excluding Le May Doan from lighting it with the other three athletes. Because the site of the ceremonies - BC Place - was a domed stadium, Gretzky was sent via the back of a pick-up truck to a secondary site — the Vancouver Convention Centre which served at the International Broadcast Centre for these Olympics — to light a larger cauldron of a similar design located outdoors, as Olympic rules state that the flame must be in public view for the entirety of the Olympics. In the closing ceremonies, Le May Doan took part in a joke about the mechanical glitch, and she was able to light the fully raised fourth pole and have the indoor cauldron relit.
  • The 2012 Summer Olympics flame in London was carried by Sir Steve Redgrave to a group of young British athletes. The group of seven, nominated by British Olympic champions, each lit a single tiny flame on the ground, igniting 204 petals, one for each competing nation or territory during the Parade of Nations.[41] Mounted on long, hinged arms, the petals were raised and converged to form the Olympic cauldron. The cauldron that traditionally flames continuously from the opening until the closing ceremony was temporarily extinguished (the flame itself was transferred to a lantern) prior to the athletics events while the cauldron was moved to the southern side of the stadium. It was relit by Austin Playfoot, a torchbearer from the 1948 Olympics. In contrast to the cauldrons in Vancouver, the cauldron was not visible to the public outside the stadium. Instead, monitors had been placed throughout the Olympic Park showing the public live footage of the flame.
  • For the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the cauldron was situated directly outside Fisht Olympic Stadium, the ceremonial venue for the Games. After the torch's lap around the stadium, hockey great Vladislav Tretiak and decorated figure skater Irina Rodnina carried the torch outside the stadium to light a larger version of the "celebration cauldron" used in the main torch relay at the center of the Olympic Park. An impressive line of gas jets carried the flame from the celebration cauldron up the main cauldron tower, eventually lighting it at the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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