It was the only time in the Games history that no torch relay took place in Greece nor was there Lighting or Handing over Ceremony of the Flame. The American organisers decided to auction every kilometre of the Torch Relay on American soil for 3,000 dollars. Anyone who wished to be a torchbearer or any private firm was allowed to offer this amount. The total proceedings were used to sponsor young athletes.
Despite several meetings with the Greek side, the American organisers insisted on their initial decision and the situation got out of control for a moment after strong protests by ancient Olympia’s municipal authorities and citizens. At the beginning, Greeks suggested that the Olympic Flame should not be handed over to the Americans but they then thought it would not be right and they decided the Flame would be lit and handed over in Ancient Olympia. So there was not any relay nor was there a first torchbearer. Then new High Priestess Katerina Didaskalou, who replaced Maria Mosholiou after 16 years, lit the Olympic Flame. The Flame was then handed to the Games organizing committee representative Richard Sargent, while IOC member Nikolaos Nissiotis was present. The sacred light was carried by a helicopter to Athens and then flew to New York on a special flight.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee gave back to the organisers the 740 torches they had been handed over for the Athens to Ancient Olympia torch relay.