Olympic Flame Facts

I've been watching the protests surrounding the Olympic torch relay, and am pleased to see people taking this opportunity to protest China's human rights record and their treatment of Tibet. In my daily news search for stories about protests surrounding the torch, I was diverted by this feature piece regarding the history of the Olympic torch, and fun facts about the flame. So, my intention of writing a thoughtful entry on the importance of and need for aggressive protests during an event like the Olympics was bumped aside for facts about the Olympic flame. I'll try for thoughtfulness in my next post. For now, I'm content with some flame facts:

* A team of about 10 "flame attendants" is responsible for the 24-hour, safe passage of the flame, which has been ignited by the sun's rays on the ancient site of Olympia in Greece.

* The lanterns spend each night in a single hotel room with three guards - one of which must be awake at any time.

*It also went out in 1976 after the Montreal Olympics had started and an official mistakenly relit it using a cigarette lighter. That was doused and it was relit again using the special lantern flame.

* A flame burned throughout the Games on the altar of the goddess Hestia, situated in the Prytaneum, the building used for the post-Games banquets. This fire was lit by the sun's rays and it was used to light other fires of the sanctuary, such as the altars of Zeus - the Games were held in his honour - and Hera. To honour this, the present Olympic torch relay begins at the Temple of Hera several months before the Games, where it is lit by a woman in ceremonial robes using a mirror and the sun.

The relay in its modern form was invented "by the organizers of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin . And it was planned with immense care by the Nazi leadership to project the image of the Third Reich as a modern, economically dynamic state with growing international influence."

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