Saturday, July 20, 2024

The Olympic Torchbearers Who Lit Up the Games Throughout the Years

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It’s an honor that’s been given to a 12-year-old schoolgirl and a Crown Prince alike. 

Since the tradition began 86 years ago, torchbearers from around the world have helped carry a symbolic flame from Olympia, Greece, to the international city hosting the Olympic games, making for the ultimate worldwide relay. 

Celebrities including Harry Potter‘s Rupert Grint and Star Trek‘s Patrick Stewart have escorted the light on one part of its journey. But one final torchbearer sets the Olympic cauldron ablaze, which fires up the Opening Ceremony and pays homage to the origin of the global event. 

The tradition began in ancient Greece, where they honored the gods by lighting a flame at the altar. The flame was first introduced into the modern Olympics at the 1928 Amsterdam event, though the relay began in 1936 with 3,000 runners passing the torch into Nazi Germany for the Berlin games.

For last year’s Tokyo Olympics, the flame was first lit in March 2020 and taken to Japan. However, before it began its tour around the host country, the games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The torch found a home at the Olympic Museum in Tokyo, before the race began again in March 2021.

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