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Olympic Torch Relay - A History
Given the age of the Olympic Games, the Olympic torch relay does not have as long a history as you might think..You will probably be surprised to learn that the Olympic torch relay is a relatively modern addition to the Olympic Games. It was begun at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany as a way of showing the supposed superiority of Aryan youth and of the Nazi regime.
In recent years the Olympic torch relay has been used to bring attention to the various sponsors of a section of the relay (non-profit and commercial). Each torch relay has a theme which is decided upon by the Olympic Games Organising Committee (OGOC). The theme in 2008 was "Journey of Harmony,” as we know it was far from that. Many protested the Olympic Games being held in China and took their anger by trying to disrupt the torch relay, actually succeeding in putting out the flame in Paris.The theme for the 2010 Olympic torch relay was "Glowing Hearts."
Early reports indicate that the London 2012 torch relay will be kept in England and will be visiting various British sports centers.
The Olympic torch is lit at a ceremony at the site of the original Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece; women playing ancient priestesses perform the ceremony in front of the Temple of Hera. Using the sun's rays on a parabolic mirror is the only way the flame can be lit. It is then placed in an urn and transported to the ancient stadium where the first runner receives the torch. The last runner, usually an athlete or a celebrity, lights the flame at the current Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremonies, and it then burns throughout the Olympic Games. The flame is put out at the closing ceremonies.
There are several backup sources of the Olympic flame to guard against accidents or in the event that it has to be put out, like in Paris. The backup flames are also lit at the Temple of Hera in the same way as the original.
Carrying the Torch
Getting the chance to carry the Olympic torch is a great honour and privilege to many people; that honour has been given to sports figures, celebrities, and regular people. The flame is transported in many ways during the Olympic torch relay, not just on foot. To get across oceans and seas, air travel is often used. The flame is also transported on horseback, wheelchair, motorcycle, etc.
Vancouver, Canada hosted the winter Olympic Games. The Olympic torch relay
was held completely in Canada; every province and territory in the country was visited by the Olympic torch. Auditions were held for the torch bearers
by sponsors RBC and Coca-Cola. The torch run began in Canada on October 30th,
2009 and ended at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games on February 12, 2010. An indoor torch was lit by Nancy Green, Rick Hansen, Steve Nash, Catriona LeMay Doan, and Wayne Gretsky. The outdoor torch was lit by Wayne Gretsky alone.
There were some protests and a torch carrier was knocked to the ground in Kitchener, Ontario, but they were minor compared to what happened during the torch relay run leading up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Future torch runs
Other than the above mentioned problems, the Olympic torch run in Canada during 2010 was basically trouble-free, maybe future torch relays should be only held throughout the host country. The next two countries to host Olympic Games will be England in 2012 and Russia in 2014.
The theme of the 2012 London Olympics will be "One Planet." They are being touted as one of the first Olympic Games to utilize "energy efficient design, use of renewable energy, environmentally friendly transport and management of green spaces as a strategy designed to assist the planet’s climate."
The theme of the opening ceremonies will be "Isle of Wonders" and will be inspired by Shakespeare. The artistic director is Danny Boyle.