Officials perform a stunning ritual in Olympia, lighting a flame with a parabolic mirror, a fuel-filled torch, and the heat provided by the sun. The flame is then brought to the arena where the games are held in security lights. Backup flames are also carried. At night, when the stadium is lit up, the flame is visible from anywhere inside the city.
The modern Olympics were launched in Athens in 1896. They are an international sports event involving countries or territories in which athletes compete to be best at various disciplines within a number of events. The Games are held every four years and have been since their first year. They are currently held in London, England, from 28 July to 12 August 2012. Athens will be the host city for the 2004 Summer Olympics and Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
In ancient Greece, sacrifices were made to pray for good weather for the games. This practice continued into the Roman Empire when prayers were made for the same purpose. With the introduction of natural gas as a fuel for the flame, the need for human involvement has been reduced substantially. However, officials still carry out a ceremony each time a new batch of torches is prepared for use during the games.
People all over the world watch the Olympics every time they are held because it is one of the biggest global festivals. Athletes from many different countries participate on the podium wearing their country's flag while national anthems are played.
The lighting of the Olympic torch at Olympia is a ritual of enormous symbolic value that connects the ancient and modern versions of the Games securely together. It is a vital aspect of the countdown to the Olympic Games. Without the flame there can be no Olympics.
The lighting of the Olympic torch originates from an event that took place at Athens in 1896 when gold, wood and oil were used to burn for one hour a copy of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia. The king of Greece awarded the first prize to an Italian athlete. This was the beginning of what is now known as the Modern Games.
Athens wanted to host the 1900 Olympics but since it was under Turkish rule at the time this could not be done so they sent an invitation to other cities who were able to pay their way through donations from themselves or the government. Paris accepted but did not deliver on its promise so Athens became the only city to have ever hosted the Olympics twice.
In 1952 Helsinki received the right to host the Games by default because Moscow refused to allow Soviet athletes to compete against opponents from the West. This decision caused many problems for Russia and Germany has already said it will not go ahead with the project so it's likely that Moscow will change its mind once more.
The last Olympic games held in London was in 1948.
Olympia As a result, the Olympic flame lighting ceremony, which was initially included as part of the torch relay for the 1936 Berlin Games, is now staged at the ancient Olympic site of Olympia in Greece. The Olympic flame is ignited during the ceremony using a parabolic mirror and the sun's beams.
The modern day version of the Olympic torch relay began in Athens on 17 October 2004. American runner Eric Taylor was selected by local organizers to be the first torchbearer. He started the relay with the flame on his back.
Other countries have adopted their own versions of the torch relay, some similar to the Greek one, others very different. For example, the Spanish torch relay follows a straight line from country center to country center while the French one goes from town to town. In both cases, though, the flames are kept burning throughout the journey so that people can see the location of the next stop through them.
In 2009, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be held across Japan. The city has been selected as the host nation after winning an international bidding race against Paris and Madrid. The IOC will vote on 2 December 2011 whether to grant Tokyo the right to host the 2024 Olympics after France and Spain declined the offer. If granted, Tokyo would be the first Asian city to host the event twice.
The ritual itself is mostly symbolic, serving to connect the ancient Greek Games to the current Olympics. The Olympic torch will be ignited during the event, which will take place at the site of the first Olympic Games in antiquity in Ancient Olympia, Greece.
The modern Olympic Games were founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1894. He wanted to establish an international organization that would promote athletic competition and education for young people across the world. The first games were small, with only eight events, but they have since grown into the largest sporting event in the world. More than 5,000 athletes from around the world will participate in the 2012 games in London.
During the opening ceremony of the games, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selects one athlete from each country to carry the torch during its trip around the stadium. Each person can choose how they want to represent their country by wearing a traditional dress or costume, carrying a flag, or creating a performance art piece along the way.
The torch has been carried throughout Europe, Asia, North America, and Oceania so far. It will be passed on during the week-long celebration of sport called the Olympiad. The final leg of the torch relay will take it directly into the stadium where the opening ceremony will be held.