Carl Diem, the chairman of the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, proposed the torch relay because it was a custom in ancient Greece that a flame burnt in the temple of Hera for the duration of the Ancient Olympic Games in Olympia and honored the theft of fire from the gods.
The modern version of the torch relay began in France in 1996 when President Jacques Chirac approved the use of torches for an annual event called la Coupe du Monde (World Cup). The decision was made so athletes from all over the world could be inspired by French sportsmanship and celebrate the Olympics together. Since then, the torch has been used each year at the opening ceremony of the games.
In 2004, the relay was adopted as part to a global celebration of peace called the "Peace through Sports" initiative. The motto "C'est à côté de chez nous" ("It's near our house") was chosen to reflect the fact that many people around the world will be able to see the torch light up close where they live.
In 2008, the relay was used to mark the beginning of Germany's road to the 2012 Olympics. Berlin was chosen as the host city because of its tradition as a cultural center and because the German government believed the event would help unite their country after the financial crisis.
The torch relay tradition originated in 1936, when a torch is lighted from a fire basin at the ancient site of the Games in Olympia, Greece, and runners carry it to the host country of that year's Games in a symbolic journey from the past to the present. During World War II, when Greek athletes were unable to compete due to lack of resources, their positions on the torch list were given to runners who had not previously received a country. Since then, every host city has been allowed to choose how they want to implement the torch relay, which usually takes place around February-March time. Some countries choose to run with their national flag, while others use music or fireworks.
This record belongs to Japanese athlete Hirofumi Muraoka who continuously ran for 24 hours 11 minutes 57 seconds between 15 March and 16 March 2004. The event was held at the Chuoh Komei Memorial Hall in Kobe where Muraoka competed in another record breaking attempt. Before this attempt, the longest continuous running recorded by a human being was only 17 hours 50 minutes but Muraoka improved this record by more than five hours.
Muraoka started his record breaking attempt after competing in the Japan Open Athletic Championships where he set a new championship record by running 1,680 meters in the marathon.
The Olympic torch relay ceremony originated in Nazi Germany, not ancient Greece. On July 20, 1936, the Olympic flame was lit at a somber ceremony in Olympia, Greece, by the blistering rays of the noon sun magnified by a parabolic mirror. It was carried by German athletes and officials who were seeking to restore Germany's honor after it had been tarnished by allegations of Nazi brutality.
The modern day Olympic torch is an iconic symbol of sport and peace used to commemorate the opening ceremonies of each Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics. It originates from the Nazi party's use of torches to mark their marches and rallies. Today, the flame is once again being used to celebrate sports and unity following the events of World War II. The first Olympic torch was lit on March 2, 1964, in front of the Greek Parliament building in Athens. Since then, the flame has appeared at every Olympic opening ceremony, with exceptions when countries were unable to afford air travel (e.g., 1976 Montreal Olympics).
The modern Olympic torch is designed by Pierre Cardin and Luc Nuceti and they have said that its shape is based on a mandala, a traditional Indian painting method where geometric shapes are grouped together to create a visual image.
It consists of two parts: a cylinder which holds the fire and a rod for carrying it.
The contemporary Olympics have included a blazing flame since 1928, however the custom dates back to the ancient Greek Games. 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 flame is brought to Athens by boat for these particular events.
In modern times, the host city of the Olympic games selects the theme for the opening and closing ceremonies. This year's ceremonies will be held in London on 12 August after being postponed due to the terrorist attacks that occurred in July. The selection process is done through an open call for proposals that are reviewed by a committee made up of members from different countries. These committees recommend themes they feel will best represent their country and themselves, and the selections are then voted on by the entire group.
Each summer Olympic games opens with a procession of athletes, coaches, officials, and guests walking behind a burning torch to raise the mood before the start of the competition. The flame has been used throughout history to mark the location where the next-in-line for the throne becomes the king or queen. It is also said to have been carried by the goddess Persephone to reunite her with her lover, the god Hades. They had been separated when Persephone left Earth to join her friends in Olympus.
Taking fire away from the gods. The Olympic flame serves as a symbol. Its torch was lit many months before the Summer Olympics and was taken from Greece to the Olympic host city. The torch relay concludes with the Games' opening ceremony, which culminates with the lighting of the big Olympic Flame in the host stadium.
Fire is sacred to many cultures around the world and taking it in front of an audience for the first time clearly had an effect on people. As well as being a political statement, the torch relay served as a means for the organisers to reach more people than would have attended the opening ceremony alone. Today, the torch relay is an important part of every Games' opening ceremony.
During its journey, the torch has been passed from hand to hand, including those of politicians, members of the public and celebrities. It has also been captured by photographers and journalists, who have used it to show the progress of the relay and take pictures of it burning down countries. At each stop, the local organising committee selects someone responsible for keeping the flame alight until it reaches its next destination. This person may be an athlete, a mayor or an official from the hosting country - the choice is up to them.
The modern Olympic flame is a replica of the original flame of Zeus that was kept at Olympia, Greece. It was created by British chemist Henry Salt in 1872, just three years after the first Modern Olympics were held in Athens.