The Olympic Flame represents the continuity of ancient and current games. On the first day of the games, the torch is carried into the stadium, and the torchbearer is chosen to fire the cauldron. This rite represents the continuity of old periods and modern generations. At the end of the ceremony, the bearer passes out the remaining torches, which are then taken up by new participants in the Olympics.
The origin of the Olympic Flame dates back to the mid-14th century when it was first brought from Greece to Europe by Philip IV of France. In 1755, the original flame was lost when a fire destroyed much of Paris; it was not until 1872 that it was re-lit again. The flame has been burned many times since then at various international exhibitions and festivals.
At these events, the bearer of the flame is also elected "Lord of the Flame". Today, the Lord of the Flame is usually an athlete or sportsperson who has won a medal himself/herself.
In addition to being shown at these events, the flame is also kept alive for several days during the Games themselves. It is only after the closing ceremony that the flame is finally extinguished.
The symbolism of the Olympic Flame is many-sided. It shows that games will never end, because they are repeated at every Olympics.
The Olympic flame is a symbol associated with the Olympic Games. It also represents the continuity between ancient and modern games. This event kicks off the Olympic torch relay, which formally concludes with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron during the Olympic Games' opening ceremony.
The first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896. The idea for an annual international sporting competition dates back to 776 BC when Pythian Games were first held. These games were only open to men but later women's events were added.
In 1936, after the Nazi invasion of Greece, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided not to send athletes or officials to Germany. However, the German government requested that some events be held under their supervision as part of a showpiece festival called the "German National Day". The IOC agreed and five sports were selected - athletics, boxing, fencing, gymnastics, and wrestling. In addition, the festival included a large trade fair and entertainment programs.
At the end of World War II, the Germans withdrew their support from the festival and left Greece within days. No events took place in 1940 and 1941 due to the absence of competitors and organizers, respectively. But after the war, the Greeks initiated a new tradition of holding an annual Olympic festival in August. This second Greek Olympics was recognized by the IOC as official Games following a request from President Thomas Jefferson.
The flame has been burning continuously for over 2,500 years at the site where it was discovered in 1936.
There are many myths and stories surrounding the origin of the Olympic flame but it is known that it was first used during the Greek festival of Hephaestus in 680 BC. The event was called the Pythian Games and it took place every four years near Corinth, Greece. There are no records of how the flame got from Greece to Corinthe but it probably did so sometime before the end of the 6th century BC. When it arrived in Corinthe, the flame was kept alive by the priestly family who lived there.
The last time the flame appeared in public was in Athens in 396 BC when it was used during the Panathenaic Games. It wasn't until 36 years later that the first Olympic Games were held in Athens and since then the flame has been used at each edition of the Olympics. In 1944, during World War II, the Nazis destroyed most of the evidence of the ancient games but they were able to save the flame which was found hidden under a tree in Athens. Today, this flame is used again at each Olympic ceremony.