It’s happening; the Olympics are coming to the UK and they’re coming fast. In only 79 days (as of May 9th) until London is full to the brim with athletes and sports fans from across the globe ready to kick off this huge set of events.
But before that all starts, the Olympic Torch will be lit and carried across the world to signal the start of the Olympic Games. The flame for the Olympic Torch Relay starts in Olympia, Greece on May 10th before travelling to the UK.
The torch will then be carried by Olympic torchbearers through more than 1000 of the UK’s cities, towns and villages on its way to the Olympic Stadium in London.
The torch stays lit with its flame burning throughout the whole relay. When it travels between countries it does so by train or plane. When it arrives in a city that is part of the relay a torchbearer will run or travel through the city holding the burning flame up high.
The torch will end up at its destination in time for the Opening Ceremony, and the moment it enters the Olympic Stadium is usually the highlight of the opening event. The final torchbearer to carry the Olympic Torch has a particularly important job, and is often taken up by a celebrity or particularly famous athlete.
The final torchbearer will do a lap around the stadium, holding the torch up high, and then uses the torch to light the Cauldron. The Flame will then stay lit until the final closing ceremony at the end of the events.
At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the final torchbearer who lit the cauldron was Olympic Gymnast, Li Ning, and the Paralympic cauldron was lit by Chinese triple jumper, Hou Bin.
When travelling across the globe, the Olympic Flame can be seen at some amazing destinations, but some treacherous ones too. Before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Chinese mountaineers carried the flame to the peak of the world’s highest mountain: 8,844.43m high Mt. Qomolangma, known as Mt. Everest in the west, which stands on the border of China and Tibet.
The whole of the Olympic Torch Relay before the Beijing Games was not as arduous however. It started in at the Genghis Khan Mausoleum (above) in northern China’s Ordos, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region before travelling throughout the country.
The torch relay for the 2010 Winter Olympics went through the British Columbian city of Fernie in Canada in the very early morning in these beautiful shots.
This year the Olympic Torch Relay leading up to the 2012 Games in London will travel from May 10th across the UK. It will apparently come within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey.