The Olympic Flame is a symbol of the Olympic Games. On October 22, 2009, the natural rays of the sun ignited the flame in Olympia Greece and by February 2010, this new flame will usher the start of the XXV Winter Olympiad in Vancouver, British Columbia. While this is the third torch run to be held in Canada, this run will make Olympic history. As Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson exclaimed on October 30, 2009, “[t]oday we create a bridge between ancient Olympia and a young Canada. We are joined together by common ideals and an eagerness to make the world a better place through fair play, respect and a commitment to peace and the power of sport.”
HISTORY OF THE OLYMPIC FLAME AND THE TORCH RELAY
The Olympic Flame, which commemorates the theft of fire from Zeus by Prometheus, has been part of the Games since the very beginning. The Flame burns throughout the celebration of the Olympics. Months prior to the Games, the flame is light through a special ceremony and delivered to the host country. And, the flame is only extinguished at the end of the closing ceremony.
While the torch run does not have ties to the ancient games of Olympia, Greece, it stands as a ritual symbolic of “Peace, Brotherhood, and Enlightenment”. The torch run became a permanent part of the modern Olympiad in the controversial 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games.
PRIOR TORCH RUNS IN CANADA
Canada has hosted two prior Olympiads- 1976 Summer Games in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.
The torch run for the 1976 Summer Games included that Olympic Flame being transformed by radio signal from Athens to Canada. More than 70 runners carried the flame from Ottawa to Montréal to Kingston where the yachting competition was take place. The route was 775 kilometers, the shortest torch run in Olympic History.
For the 1988 Winter Games, the XV Winter Olympiads’ Torch Relay, themed Share the Flame, stands to date as one of the longest Olympic torch runs covering about 18,000 kilometers. The flame was transported over 88 days through 10 provinces and 2 territories via sled dog, runners, and snow mobile.
VANCOUVER OLYMPICS TORCH RELAY
The Olympic flame has returned to Canada after more than twenty years. For this XXV Olympiad, this torch relay for the 2010 Olympic Games will cover over 45,000 kilometers, both over land, through air and on sea. The 2010 Olympic torch, inspired by a group of Bombardier engineers in Quebec, is wind-resistant, able to endure temperatures as low as 40 degrees Celsius and safe to carry even at altitudes of up to 2,100 meters and can endure snow, rain and sleet.
More than 12,000 bearers, including celebrities Shania Twain and athletes Sidney Crosby, will carry the flame to more than 1000 communities through the Canadian landscape before it arrives to be seen by an audience of billions to the British Columbia Place Stadium. Taking 106 days from start to finish, this torch run will be the longest torch run in Olympic History!
An Olympic torchbearer once said that “[n]o matter how powerful the Olympic Flame is and what it represents, the flame inside each of us is greater than that flame. But what the Olympic Flame does is reflect off of each of us and inspire us to live up to the ideals of the Olympic Movement.” When the Olympic Flame is laid into its Cauldron in Vancouver on February 12, 2010, it will inspire not only Canada, but the rest of the World!
For moreinformation on the OlympicTorch relay and the XXV Winter Games, check out the following websites: