Torch Relay owes its origin to ancient Greeks and began as races in ancient Greece. The torch relay is a symbolic celebration of the Olympic Games and was revived during the Berlin Olympiad in 1936.

Olympic Torch Relay

Olympic Torch Relay
The torch relay marks the opening of the Olympic celebration. The Olympic Flame from the ancient games was re-introduced during the 1928, Amsterdam Olympic Games. In the modern Olympic Games, Torch Relay was revived during the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Torch relay, however, originated way too before the 1936 Olympic Games. In ancient Greece, torch relay races begun as religious rituals at night. However soon it turned into a popular athletic sports event. In an altar dedicated to Goddess Hestia, sacred flames were always lit in Olympia. Every time prior to the Modern Olympic Games, the sacred flame is lit by the head priestess in Olympia, Athens and then is transferred to the torch of the first runner finally resulting in the journey of the Torch Relay beginning.

The Torch Relay in modern times, however, has not regained everything that was followed in ancient Greece. The Torch Relay in modern times is a non-competitive replication of the ancient Flame Relay. The Torch Relay however marks the symbolic celebration of the Olympic Games. 1936, Berlin Olympics saw the introduction of Torch Relay, when a lighted torch from Olympia was carried to the site of the Berlin Olympic Games. The modern Olympic flame is lit at the site where the temple of Goddess Hera, wife of Zeus used to stand. The lighted torch was carried from Olympia to the site of the Games in 1936, passing through seven countries – Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany. The first runner of the Olympic Torch was young athlete Konstantinos Kondylis.

The Olympic Torch Relay ends on the day of the opening ceremony in the main stadium of the Games. The choice of the athlete, who lights the flame in the Olympic Stadium, is enjoyed by the host nation. Usually a popular and great sportsperson enjoys the honor to light the flame in the cauldron of the stadium. The Olympic Torch today has become a great symbol of peace between the continents of the world. The Olympic Torch since the inception of the torch relay in the Modern Olympic Games has traveled across almost all the nations that participate in the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. In 1960 Rome Olympics, the Olympic Torch Relay was televised for the first time. In 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Olympic Flame made its underwater journey in the Great Barrier Reef. Also, for the first time in the history of the Games, the distance traveled during the relay was very high. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Torch Relay however now enjoys the record of maximum travel during any Olympic Relay in the history of modern games.

The Beijing Olympic torch has been specially designed keeping in mind the characteristics of the Chinese people. The torch embodies the concepts of Green Olympics, People’s Olympics and High-tech Olympics. Made of aluminum, the torch is 72 centimeters high and weighs 985 grams. The Beijing Olympics Torch flame was lit on March 24, 2008 at the temple of Goddess Hera in Olympia, Greece. The torch relay will finally conclude on August 8th, 2008 after the Olympic Flame reaches the Beijing National Stadium, marking the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Torch Relay has however caused much stir world over this time, making the Olympic torch a symbol of either support or protest for and against the People’s Republic of China. The mobilization of Army by the Chinese authorities in Tibet and the violent incidents in the state has invited much criticism over Human rights violation and Beijing hosting the Olympic Games. The Torch Relay saw protests in many cities along the route. The protest was especially noticeable in USA and many European countries such as Britain and France. In Asia, the torch relay was carried out amidst high security. In later segments of the relay, large-scale counter protests by overseas Chinese became prevalent. Apart from the protests the relay had several firsts to its credit. The 2008 Beijing Olympics Torch Relay will cover the longest distance (137,000 km) of any Olympic torch relay since the tradition begun in 1936 Berlin Olympics. The relay also included an ascent with the flame to the top of Mount Everest, with people from different ethnic origins in China, carrying the flame to the highest peak of the world.