Lighting of the Olympic Flame

The Lighting of the Olympic flame traditionally takes place in Ancient Olympia and is carried out by the Hellenic Olympic Committee. Its history begins in 1936, on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Berlin. With the help of a concave mirror and as the ritual defines, the Lighting is performed by the High Priestess in the Temple of Hera (Heraion), in the archaeological site of Olympia. There, the priestess asks the help of the sun god Apollo to light the torch as she makes the invocation.

Who is the creator of this torch?

Ilias Lalaounis created it for Juan Antonio Samaranch on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Barcelona, inspired by the ribs of the columns seen in the temples of antiquity. The torch was given to Juan Antonio Samaranch in 1992 in a ceremony held on Filopappos Hill.

The torch is inspired by the column stripes found in temples of the ancient classical period.

Date Created: 1992

Material: Silver

– Ilias Lalaounis, Designer

Olympic Flames

Paris 2024

Lighting Date: April 16, 2024
Color: Silver
Height: 70 cm
Weight: 1500 gr.
First torchbearer: Stefanos Ntouskos
Last torchbearer: Ioannis Fountoulis
Countries travelled: Greece, France
Kilometres travelled: 12,500

Tokyo 2020

Lighting Date: March 12, 2020
Color: Golden Bronze
Height: 71 cm
Weight: 1200 gr.
First torchbearer: Anna Korakaki
Last torchbearer: Naomi Osaka
Countries travelled: Greece, Japan
Kilometres travelled: 20,000

Rio 2016

Lighting Date: April 21, 2016
Color: White
Height: 63.5 cm
Weight: 1000 - 1500 gr.
First torchbearer: Lefteris Petrounias
Last torchbearer: Vanderlei de Lima
Countries travelled: Greece, Brazil

London 2012

Lighting Date: May 10, 2012
Color: Gold
Height: 80 cm
Weight: 800 gr.
Number of torches: 8.500
Number of torch bearers: 8.500
First torchbearer: Spyros Gianniotis
Last torchbearer: Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds and Adelle Tracey
Countries travelled: Greece, United Kingdom
Kilometres travelled: 15,775

Beijing 2008

Lighting Date: March 24, 2008
Color: Red, Silver
Height: 72 cm
Weight: 985 gr.
Number of torch bearers: 21.800
First torchbearer: Alexandros Nikolaidis
Last torchbearer: Li Ning
Countries travelled: Greece, China, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Russia, England, France, USA, Argentina, Tanzania, Oman, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, South Korea, North Vietnam, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Macau
Kilometres travelled: 137,000

Athens 2004

Lighting Date: March 25, 2004
Color: Brown, Silver
Height: 68 cm
Weight: 700 gr.
Number of torches: 16.000
Number of torch bearers: 11.500
First torchbearer: Kostas Gatsioudis (javelin throw)
Last torchbearer: Nikos Kaklamanakis
Countries travelled: Greece, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, India, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, USA, Canada, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria and Cyprus
Kilometres travelled: 78,000

Sydney 2000

Lighting Date: May 10, 2000
Color: White, Blue, Silver
Height: 72 cm
Weight: 1000 gr.
Number of torches: 12.500
Number of torch bearers: 12.300
First torchbearer: Lambros Papakostas
Last torchbearer: Cathy Freeman
Countries travelled: Greece, Guam, Palau, Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Kook islands, New Zealand and Australia
Kilometres travelled: 30.000

Atlanta 1996

Lighting Date: March 30, 1996
Color: Silver, Brown, Gold
Height: 80.5 cm
Weight: 1550 gr.
Number of torches: 14.000
Number of torch bearers: 13.267
First torchbearer: Kostas Koukodimos
Last torchbearer: Mohammed Ali
Countries travelled: Greece, USA
Kilometres travelled: 27.890

Barcelona 1992

Lighting Date: June 5, 1992
Color: Silver
Height: 68 cm
Weight: 1200 gr.
Number of torches: 6.500
Number of torch bearers: 10.448
First torchbearer: Savvas Saritzoglou
Last torchbearer: Antonio Rebollo
Countries travelled: Greece, Spain
Kilometres travelled: 6.307

Seoul 1988

Lighting Date: August 23, 1988
Color: Light Yellow
Height: 50.5 cm
Weight: 1000 gr.
Number of torches: 3.300
Number of torch bearers: 2.689
First torchbearer: Thanassis Kalogiannis (400m. hurdles)
Last torchbearer: Kim Won Tek
Countries travelled: Greece, South Korea
Kilometres travelled: 15.250

Los Angeles 1984

Lighting Date: May 7, 1984
Color: Brown
Height: 56.5 cm
Weight: 1000 gr.
Number of torches: 4.500
Number of torch bearers: 3.636
First torchbearer: Gina Hemphill and Bill Thorpe Jr.
Last torchbearer: Rafer Johnson
Countries travelled: USA
Kilometres travelled: 15.000

Moscow 1980

Lighting Date: June 19, 1980
Color: Silver, Red, Gold
Height: 56 cm
Weight: 900 gr.
Number of torches: 6.200
Number of torch bearers: 5.000
First torchbearer: Thanassis Kosmopoulos (civilian)
Last torchbearer: Sergey Belov
Countries travelled: Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Soviet Union
Kilometres travelled: 4.915

Μontreal 1976

Lighting Date: July 13, 1976
Color: Red, Black
Height: 66 cm
Weight: 836 gr.
Number of torches: 1.250
Number of torch bearers: 1.214
First torchbearer: Tassos Psyllidis (110m. hurdles)
Last torchbearer: Sandra Henderson
Countries travelled: Greece, Canada
Kilometres travelled: 775

Munich 1972

Lighting Date: July 28, 1972
Color: Silver
Height: 75 cm
Weight: 1.350 gr.
Number of torches: 5.917
Number of torch bearers: 6.000
First torchbearer: John Kirkilessis (civilian)
Last torchbearer: Günter Zaan
Countries travelled: Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria and Germany
Kilometres travelled: 5.532

Mexico City 1968

Lighting Date: August 23, 1968
Color: Silver
Height: 52.3 cm
Weight: 780 gr.
Number of torches: 3.000
Number of torch bearers: 2.778
First torchbearer: Haris Aivaliotis (100m.)
Last torchbearer: Norma Enriqueta Basilio
Countries travelled: Greece, Italy, Spain, San Salvador, Mexico
Kilometres travelled: 13.620

Τokyo 1964

Lighting Date: August 21, 1964
Color: Silver
Height: 64.8 cm
Weight: 825 gr.
Number of torches: 6.000
Number of torch bearers: 101.866
First torchbearer: Giorgos Marsellos (110m hurdles, high jump)
Last torchbearer: Yoshinori Sakai
Countries travelled: Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, India, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong-Kong, Taiwan and Japan
Kilometres travelled: 26.065

Rome 1960

Lighting Date: August 12, 1960
Color: Bronze
Height: 39.5 cm
Weight: 580 gr.
Number of torches: 1.600
Number of torch bearers: 1.529
First torchbearer: Takis Epitropoulos (decathlon)
Last torchbearer: Giancarlo Peris
Countries travelled: Greece, Italy
Kilometres travelled: 2.750

Melbourne 1956

Lighting Date: November 2, 1956
Color: Silver
Height: 47 cm
Weight: 960 gr.
Number of torches: 400
Number of torch bearers: 3.118
First torchbearer: Dionyssios Papathanassopoulos (civilian)
Last torchbearer: Ron Klarke
Countries travelled: Greece, Australia
Kilometres travelled: 20.470

Helsinki 1952

Lighting Date: June 25, 1952
Color: Brown, Silver
Height: 59 cm
Weight: 600 gr.
Number of torches: 22
Number of torch bearers: 3.372
First torchbearer: Christos Panagopoulos (civilian)
Last torchbearer: Paavo Nurmi
Countries travelled: Greece, Denmark, Sweden and Finland
Kilometres travelled: 7.870

London 1948

Lighting Date: July 17, 1948
Color: Silver
Height: 46.8 cm
Weight: 960 gr.
Number of torches: 1.720
Number of torch bearers: 1.416
First torchbearer: Konstantinos Dimitrelis (soldier)
Last torchbearer: John Mark
Countries travelled: Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Great Britain
Kilometres travelled: 3.365

Βerlin 1936

Lighting Date: July 20, 1936
Color: Silver
Height: 27 cm
Weight: 450 gr.
Number of torches: 3.639
Number of torch bearers: 3.331
First torchbearer: Konstantinos Kondylis (civilian)
Last torchbearer: Fritz Schilgen
Countries travelled: Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany
Kilometres travelled: 3.187

Beijing 2022

Lighting Date: 18 October 2021
Color: Red and Silver
Height: 82 cm
Weight: 1100 gr.
First torchbearer: Ioannis Antoniou
Last torchbearer: Dilnigar Ilhamjan & Zhao Jiawen
Countries travelled: Greece, China

PyeongChang 2018

Lighting Date: October 24, 2017
Color: White & Gold
Height: 70 cm
Weight: 1236 gr.
First torchbearer: Apostolos Aggelis
Countries travelled: Greece, South Korea

Sochi 2014

Lighting Date: September 29, 2013
Color: Silver & Red
Height: 95 cm
Weight: 1800 gr.
Number of torch bearers: 14.250
First torchbearer: Giannis Antoniou
Last torchbearer: Irina Rodnina
Countries travelled: Greece, Russia
Kilometres travelled: 67.500

Vancouver 2010

Lighting Date: October 22, 2009
Color: Silver and White
Height: 94.5 cm
Number of torch bearers: 12.560
First torchbearer: Vassilis Dimitriadis
Last torchbearer: Catriona Le May Doan, Wayne Gretzky
Countries travelled: Greece, USA, Canada
Kilometres travelled: 47,180 kms

Τοrino 2006

Lighting Date: November 27, 2005
Color: Blue
Height: 77 cm
Number of torch bearers: 10.535
First torchbearer: Kostas Filippides
Last torchbearer: Stefania Belmondo
Countries travelled: Greece, Italy, Vatican city, San Marino, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, France
Kilometres travelled: 12,306 kms

Salt Lake 2002

Lighting Date: November 19, 2001
Color: Silver & Bronze
Height: 83.5 cm
Number of torch bearers: 12.053
First torchbearer: Lefteris Fafalis
Last torchbearer: Members of the US Ice Hokey Olympic Team from Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Games
Countries travelled: Greece, USA
Kilometres travelled: 22.093 kms + 8 nautical miles in Greece

Lillehammer 1994

Lighting Date: January 16, 1994
Color: Brown. Silver & Bronze
Height: 152 cm
Last torchbearer: Crown Prince Haakon Magnus
Countries travelled: Greece, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden & Norway
Kilometres travelled: Approx. 6000 kms

Αlbertville 1992

Lighting Date: December 13, 1991
Color: Silver
Height: 41 cm
Number of torch bearers: 5.500
First torchbearer: Thanassis Tsakiris
Last torchbearer: Michel Platini
Countries travelled: Greece, France
Kilometres travelled: 5,700 kms

Νagano 1998

Lighting Date: December 19, 1997
Color: Red, Silver & Gold
Height: 55 cm
Number of torch bearers: 6.916
First torchbearer: Vassilis Dimitriadis
Last torchbearer: Midori Ito
Countries travelled: Greece, Japan
Kilometres travelled: 1,162 kms

Calgary 1988

Lighting Date: November 15, 1987
Color: Silver & Brown
Height: 60 cm
Number of torch bearers: 7.000
First torchbearer: Stelios Bisbas
Last torchbearer: Robyn Perry
Countries travelled: Greece, Canada
Kilometres travelled: 18,000

Sarajevo 1984

Lighting Date: January 29, 1984
Color: Gold & Silver
Height: 57,7 cm
Number of torch bearers: ~1600
First torchbearer: Haralambos Karalis
Last torchbearer: Sanda Dubravčić
Countries travelled: Greece, Yugoslavia
Kilometres travelled: 5,289 kms

Lake Placid 1980

Lighting Date: January 30, 1980
Color: Bronze
Height: 72,5 cm
Number of torch bearers: 52
First torchbearer: Giorgos Gikas
Last torchbearer: Dr. Charles Morgan Kerr
Countries travelled: Greece, USA
Kilometres travelled: 12,824 kms

Ιnnsbruck 1976

Lighting Date: January 30, 1976
Color: Silver
Height: 74,6 cm
First torchbearer: Spyros Tzavaras
Last torchbearer: Christl Haas, Josef Feistmantl
Countries travelled: Greece, Austria
Kilometres travelled: 1,618 kms

Sapporo 1972

Lighting Date: December 28, 1971
Color: Black
Height: 55 cm
Number of torch bearers: ~16300
First torchbearer: John Kirkilessis (civilian)
Last torchbearer: Hideki Takada, a 16-year-old high school pupil from Sapporo
Countries travelled: Greece, Okinawa (then under U.S. administration), Japan
Kilometres travelled: 18,741 kms

Grenoble 1968

Lighting Date: December 16, 1967
Color: Red & Bronze
Height: 70 cm
Number of torch bearers: ~5000
First torchbearer: Tassos Bahouros
Last torchbearer: Alain Calmat
Countries travelled: Greece, France
Kilometres travelled: 7,222 kms

Ιnnsbruck 1964

Lighting Date: 1964
First torchbearer: Dionyssis Kessaris

Squaw Valley 1960

Lighting Date: January 31, 1960
Color: Silver
Height: 48,5 cm
Number of torch bearers: ~600
First torchbearer: Olav Nordskog, Young Norwegian
Last torchbearer: Kenneth Charles Henry
Countries travelled: Norway, Denmark, USA

Cortina d’ Ampezzo 1956

Lighting Date: January 22, 1956
Color: Silver
Height: 47 cm
First torchbearer: Adolfo Consolini
Last torchbearer: Guido Caroli
Countries travelled: Italy

Οslo 1952

Lighting Date: February 13, 1952
Color: Silver
Height: 22 cm
Number of torch bearers: 94 Skiers
First torchbearer: A representative of the third generation of the well known Hemmestveit skiing family
Last torchbearer: Eigil Nansen
Countries travelled: Norway
Kilometres travelled: ~225 kms

Invocation to the God Apollo

Sacred silence

Let the sky, the earth, the sea and the winds sound.
Mountains fall silent.
Sounds and birds’ warbles cease.
For Phoebus, the Light bearer King shall keep us company.

Apollo God of sun and the idea of light
send your rays and light the sacred torch
for the hospitable city of…
And you Zeus give peace to all peoples on earth and
wreath the winners
of the Sacred Race

The choreographers of the Olympic flame lighting ceremony

The first Lighting of the Olympic Flame in Ancient Olympia took place on July 20, 1936 for the Berlin Olympic Games with the then High Priestess Koula Pratsika, who is considered a pioneer of classical dance in Greece and was the first choreographer of the lighting ceremony.

In 1936, Koula Pratsika lit the sacred flame for the Olympic Games in Berlin, for the only time in her life, and she had Maria Hors, then still a little girl, by her side. Therefore, Maria Hors was there from the beginning, in the holy land, when the institution of the Olympic Flame was founded.

Later, in 1964, she took over the artistic direction of the Ceremony. From then on and for forty-two years (1964-2006), Hors continuously choreographed the ceremony, constantly adding new elements. Her name, therefore, has rightly been inextricably linked with the Lighting of the Flame ceremony, representing at the same time an emblematic form of the Olympic Games.

In 1988 she has at her side, as assistant choreographer, the then young Artemis Ignatiou who will take over in 2008. From then until now Artemis Ignatiou is the official choreographer and artistic director of the Olympic Games Flame Ceremony of Lighting and Handover.