Olympic Torch History: What You Didn’t Know

Tonight is the opening night of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – more than 11,000 athletes will come together from over 200 National Olympic Committees to compete in the games that date as far back as 776 B.C.

The rich history of the Olympic games is certainly no secret to anyone. It’s an exciting tradition that keeps the competitive spirit alive while the world gets a look into each hosting country’s culture, traditions, and natural beauty.

One of the biggest traditions of the Olympic Games is the passing of the Olympic torch. This year, the Olympic torch will travel more than 12,000 miles by foot and close to 1,000 miles by plane before reaching its final destination of the Maracana Stadium tonight for the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. This will officially kick off the 2016 Olympic Games.

Just like other innovations in travel, the passing of the Olympic Torch has significantly advanced over the years, embracing technology to improve how the torch reaches its destinations and how people across the world can follow its journey.

In honor of tonight’s opening ceremony, here are some lesser known facts about today’s Olympic torch:

  1. The Olympic torch has been underwater and in outer space

Olympic torch passers continue to break boundaries in the way that they travel. Because the Olympic torch burns gas fuel, it’s designed to resist wind and rain, making it possible to travel to unexpected locations (and prevent it from burning out). In 2014, the torch was passed underwater in the world’s deepest lake, Lake Baikal, where it was rocketed shortly after to shore:


The Olympic torch has even made it to outer space! While the flame can’t be lit in orbit, it was historic nonetheless to see it in outer space for over an hour:


  1. In 2004, the Olympic Torch visited every continent

The 2004 Olympic Torch Relay marked the first relay where the torch visited every continent. It traveled to 34 cities across 27 countries by a combination of plane and foot.

  1. The Olympic flame is kept in security lamps when traveling by plane

If you’ve ever wondered how the flame can travel across the world and remain lit, this is it. The flame is kept in multiple security lamps (just in case any burn out) and remains attended to at all times. But even the Olympic flame can’t get past airport security:


  1. You can track the Olympic Torch’s location from your phone

Mobile technology is making a huge impact on travel, specifically in how we move and how we plan our trips. This has expanded to The Olympic Torch Relay, where you can now use a mobile app to stay updated on the Olympic torch’s location.

The Rio 2016 app allows users to track the Olympic torch’s location and receive real-time updates. This way, you can always stay in the loop leading up to the opening ceremony.

Advancements in technology have changed the way the Olympic torch travels and the way spectators across the world can follow the build up to the Olympic Games. While keeping the tradition alive, the Olympic torch continues to push boundaries and create excitement around this beloved event.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3