|The Lighting of the Flame
For each Olympiad, a flame is ignited from
the sun`s rays in a historic ceremony dating back to 700 BC. The ceremony
marks the beginning of the Flame Relay, and presents an opportunity for
each organizing committee to pay homage to the legacy Greece has bequeathed
to the modern Games.
Following tradition, the majestic
ceremony took place in the ancient stadium in the city of Olympia. It was
attended by thousands of Greek citizens in a public celebration of Olympic
ideals. After presentations by the Greek government, HOC, ACOG officials,
and the first lady of the US, the high priestess and accompanying priestesses
performed an ancient and private ritual in the Sacred Grove of Altis, invoking
the Greek gods to bless the Games and light the flame.
The flame was then presented
for view to the public by the high priestess, and the first Greec torchbearer
began the Flame Relay through Greece. This beautifully executed ceremony
was a truly emotional experience for all who attended. The ACOG representatives
returned to Atlanta energized for the final months before the Games.
The portion of the relay that
took place in Greece was the most extensive in history. At each relay stop,
officials conducted a 15 - 20 minute public ceremony that included lighting
a cauldron, raising the US and Greek flags, playing the national anthems,
remarks by Greek dances, and gift exchanges between ACOG officials and
the local government representative.
The Flame Relay in Greece united
ACOG and the HOC in respect and sentiment for the flame, epitomizing the
true spirit of the Olympic Games.
|Date of the torch relay:
March - 6. April (Greece)
April - 19. July (USA)
|Numbers of runners:
than 800 tourchbearer in Greece
torchbearer in USA
km troughout Greece
km in USA
|Name of last runner:
The US Route
The US route, designed to reflect the geographic
and social diversity of the country as well as its history, crossed deserts
and prairies, wine country and farmland, rivers and lakes, and big cities
and small towns. In addition to being carried by torchbearers, the flame
traveled by train, steamboat, canoe, horseback, sailboat, and other modes
of transportation that reflected the character and history of surrounding
communities. The route included three US Olympic host cities: St. Louis
(1904), Los Angeles 1932 and 1984), and Atlanta.
Torch Relay staff resarched historical
sites and key moments in US Olympic history to create a route that would
showcase the US.In summer 1994, the senior manager of operations secretly
journeyed cross-country to determine the initial proposed route and undertake
an initial mileage measurement. He also drove the secondary roads to ensure
the route was passable, tracked mileage for a preliminary distance estimate,
and resarched local folklore and landmarks to choose celebration sites
that ensured the route would pass by places important to the local pobulation.
Many ideas generated on that drive were adopted in the final route.
Muhammad Ali ignites the self-propelling torch
that will light the Olympic cauldron
|The most sacred, dramatic, and
anticipated moment of the Opening Ceremony has arrived - the arrival of
the Olympic flame. It has been 84 days since its arrival in the United
States, which, together with the 16 days of competition to come, will equal
a symbolic 100 days. In the US, the flame has traveled more than 16,000
miles (25,749 km) in a journey that will conclude momentarily in Atlanta.
The stage is set, and 3.5 milliard people around the world, along with
the assembled athletes of the XXVI Olympiad, eagerly await the sight of
the torch being carried into the stadium by an asyet unknown runner.
|Periodically throughout the evening,
updates of the torch`s progress have been displayed on large screens inside
Olympic Stadium. The final runner, four-time discus gold-medal winner Al
Oerter, arrives at he stadium and ignites the torch held by another Olympic
great, three-time heavyweight world champion boxer Evander Holyfield, a
resident of Atlanta. Holyfield, whose identity as the runner who will enter
the stadium with the torch has been kept secret, runs into the tunnel that
will take him underground and finally up onto the huge raised platform
in the center of the field. His surprise appearance is cheered heartily
by the stadium audience and the assembled athletes surrounding the platform.
Hoyfield leaves the platform and heads for the track, where he beckons
runner Voula Patoulidou of Greece. Together, they carry the torch around
the stadium track, where they meet another Olympic great, US swimmer Janet
Evants, to whom they pass the torch. Accompanied by the strains of Beethoven`s
"Ode to Joy," Evans holds the torch high as she begans her lap around the
track. The cheers from the capacity crowd swell to a deafening roar, as
if to propel Evans toward the long ramp leading up to the top of the north
end of the stadium.
The eyes of the world are literally
focused on Evans as she begins to climb the long ramp. Suddenly appearing
to the world, standing confidently at the top, is "The Greatest," the incomparable
Muhammad Ali, whose presence draws a collective gasp and then a tumultuous
roar from the crowd. Ali, the heavyweight boxing gold medalist at the 1960
Rome Games, is today regarded as the reatest professional heavyweight boxing
champion of all time.
Evans touches her torch to Ali`s
igniting it. 'Trembling from the palsy that has gripped his body in recent
years, Ali raises the torch triumphantly and is answered by wild, euphoric
cheers from the audience. Then, in a magical sleight-of-hand, Ali slowly
lowers his torch to ignite a special self-propelling torch that conveys
the flame up a long cable to the waiting cauldron. The mechanical torch
is ignited, and begins its journey up the high wire. When it reaches the
cauldron`s edge, the flame races around the enormous spiral, setting each
jet ablaze. Tears of joy flow easily and generously from the eyes of many
spectators in the giant Olympic Stadium. This culminating moment, so completely
unexpected in its final, emotionally charged twist, enthralls, fortifies,
and unites the worldwide audience in a feeling that will be sustained troughout
(Source document: Official
post report 1996, Published by Peachtree Publishers, 494 Armour Circle
NE, Atlanta, GA 30324)
Read more: Vol. I, page 481 - 489