Fire has always been seen as a sacred symbol and was used in many civilisations for different rituals. It is said that the Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to humans and in celebration they would run a relay holding a torch until the finish line. The original flame was lit on an altar in Olympia, using a parabolic mirror “skaphia”, representing the might of Apollo. The first Olympics date back to 776 BC Greece, and they represented a time of peace. During the event all civil wars ceased and a truce was called until the end of the games.
It is not clear as to why the games were stopped and it wasn’t until 1896 that the modern-day Olympics re-emerged. Unfortunately, the tradition of the torch did not make an appearance until the Berlin Olympics of 1936, when Carl Diem a historian wanted to combine old traditions to the modern games. The torch was again lit in Olympia and relayed to Berlin. A tradition that remains with us until today and has seen the torch travel across many a country and many a different condition, on planes, on trains, underwater and even in Space. All in the hope of bringing good sport, unity, and fairness. Every country staging the Olympics have designed a distinctive flame vessel to represent their country – this year the Japanese have modelled theirs on the iconic cherry blossom and is known as the “Sakura Pink”, with five flames igniting into one with its befitting motto “Hope lights our Way”