What does Olympic torch represents?August 8, 2021
What is the Olympic torch represents? History, origins and meaning of the iconic Games symbol – and if it ever goes out
The Olympic torch represents the fire that Prometheus stole from the god Zeus in Greek mythology
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are finally underway a year after originally planned.
The Games were pushed back by the Covid-19 pandemic, but kicked off on Wednesday with the women’s football and softball beginning.
On Friday, the opening ceremony will officially launch the Games, as the Olympic torch is used to light the Olympic cauldron in Tokyo’s stadium.
But what is the history of the Olympic flame, and does it always stay lit? Here is what you need to know.
Olympic torch meaning
The flame represents the fire that Prometheus stole from the god Zeus in Greek mythology. Prometheus then gave the gift of fire to humanity, which helped it grow towards civilisation.
The tradition of lighting a flame during the Games started way back in Ancient Greece.
However, it has not always been a part of the Olympics, only becoming a fixture of the modern Games in 1928.
terdam lit the first modern Olympic torch in the Marathon Tower of the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam.
The torch relay – during which a torch is lit at the original location of the Games in Olympia, Greece, and carried to the host of the current games – started eight years later. This symbolic race represents the journey of the Olympics from past to present.
Does the Olympic torch ever go out?
While some believe that the Olympic torch has never gone out since the first Games, this is not actually the case.
The flame is actually relit in Greece a few months before each Olympics, and then the torch relay begins.
It is not uncommon for the Olympic flame to be accidentally or deliberately extinguished during the course of the torch relay, with ‘backup’ flames accompanying the torch on the relay, while others trail in nearby backup locations.
When a torch on the relay goes out, it is simply re-lit from a backup flame.
The Olympic cauldron itself has been extinguished by accident once, when a rainstorm hit the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was initially re-lit using a cigarette lighter, before being extinguished again and re-lit using a backup torch
Of course, there is one time the flame is meant to be extinguished: during the closing ceremony, which marks the end of the Olympics