The flame on the Olympic torch is one of the most important symbols of the Olympics, since its first celebrations in ancient Greece. Every four years, on the eve of a new Olympics and during the opening ceremony, the torch is the protagonist and its fire is the reference to the beginning of the greatest sporting competition for athletes around the world.
The symbolism of fire and the Olympic torch is a representation of the brightness of this celebration and the lack of this important element was considered a bad omen for the believers of myths and legends. According to the Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from god Zeus and gave it as a gift to mortals.
Therefore, since the oldest competitions held in Olympia, it has been a tradition to keep the torch alight in honor of the gods and their sacrifices. Any change in that command was considered a sign to cancel the event.
In the modern history of the Olympic Games, there are records of the use of the torch since the Olympics held in Amsterdam in 1928, and until a few decades ago, the torch remained alight during the whole ceremony. Other elements were included to the ritual of the torch, such as the relays around the world that are symbols of the union among the peoples. This important symbol is meant to last three months alight.
To keep the flame going for so long, it needs to be made of special materials that can withstand strong winds and heavy rain. Nowadays, the torch is made of aluminum and resin, with satin finishes.
Each year, the venue of the celebration creates a design for the torch. In the last Olympics held in Rio 2016, the first in the South American continent, Brazilians created something to represent the historical value of the Olympic flame and the warmth of Brazilians. The design was made of three triangles symbolizing the values of competition: friendship, excellence and respect, with a floating effect representing the effort of the protagonist athletes in each Olympic event. Moreover, the Brazilian spirit of joy and diversity was reflected by the inclusion of the colors of their national flag.
As a prelude to the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics, the torch was lit at the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Olympia, and then taken to 300 different cities around Brazil.
The fire of the Olympic torch has challenged landscapes, heights and weather forecasts. It has climbed the Everest, crossed the skies in the Concorde and has been transported via satellite. Today, its symbolism as the protector of the Olympics remains more alive than ever.