One of the most exciting parts of the opening ceremonies of any Olympic Games is the lighting of the cauldron with the Olympic flame. Today, Wonderopolis takes a trip back to ancient Greece to learn more about the origins of the modern Olympic flame.
The Olympic flame is one of the most important symbols of the Olympic Games. It symbolizes the fire Prometheus stole from the ancient Greek god Zeus. In ancient Greece, the organizers of the early Olympic Games kept a flame burning throughout the course of the games.
The Olympic flame has not always been a part of the Olympic Games, though. Fire as a symbol in the form of the Olympic flame was first used in the modern era at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.
An even more modern tradition is the Olympic torch relay. Started in 1936 before the Summer Olympics in Berlin, the modern torch relay carries the Olympic flame from Greece to various sites before arriving at the site of the current Olympic Games to light the cauldron during the opening ceremonies.
Although some legends hold that the Olympic flame has been kept burning ever since the first Olympic Games, in truth it is relit several months before each new Olympic Games. The Olympic torch relay begins at the site of the ancient Olympics in Olympia, Greece.
As a symbol of the life and competitive spirit of the Olympic Games, though, one could say truthfully that the flame has never gone out. People all around the world wait anxiously for the coming of each new Olympic Games.
During the torch relay, the Olympic flame is usually carried by runners. However, over time, it has also been transported in some other interesting ways. In 1948, the Olympic flame crossed the English Channel on a boat. In 1952, it flew in an airplane to Helsinki, Finland.
Perhaps the most interesting method of transportation was used in 1976. The Olympic flame was converted to a radio signal that was sent from Athens via satellite to Canada, where it then triggered a laser beam that was used to relight the flame.
The Olympic flame has also traveled by canoe, camel and Concorde. To prove that the spirit of the Olympics is truly unquenchable, the Olympic flame also was transported underwater by divers at the Great Barrier Reef in 2000.