The Olympic flame is seen as a symbol of peace and hope.
For the host nation, the Olympic flame, lit by the rays of the sun in ancient Olympia,
Greece, is one of the most powerful symbols of the Olympic Movement,
and will be carried around the nation by a relay of torchbearers (TBs).
The concept for the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay is “Hope Lights Our Way.” As it unites the people around a message of supporting, accepting and encouraging one another, the Olympic flame will symbolize the sunrise of a new era, spreading the hope that will light our way.
The Torch Relay will begin with the flame lighting ceremony in Greece. The Olympic flame will then be transported to Japan, where prior to the Relay itself, it will be specially displayed in three prefectures in the Tohoku region, symbolizing a Flame of Recovery for areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. After that, the Torch Relay will begin, as the Olympic flame is carried across Japan.
❶Flame Lighting Ceremony in Olympia, Greece
The traditional ceremony to kindle the Olympic flame is conducted at the Temple of Hera, in Olympia, Greece, site of the ancient Olympics, Eleven women, representing the Vestal Virgins, dressed in ancient robes perform a celebration whereby the Olympic flame is kindled by the light of the Sun, its rays concentrated by a parabolic mirror. The flame is handed to the first torchbearer, and after a relay around Greece, a ceremony is held to transfer the flame to the host city of the next Games.
❷Flame Hand-over Ceremony in Athens, Greece
The Flame Hand-over Ceremony is held in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, and entails a member of the Hellenic Olympic Committee passing over the flame to a representative of the next host city. A number of events celebrating the cultures of both Greece and the next host city are then held, which are open to the public.
The Olympic Torch Relay begins with the kindling of the Olympic flame by the rays of the sun in
Olympia, Greece, and is followed by a relay around Greece. The Olympic flame is then transported
to the host country where a Torch Relay is conducted until the Opening Ceremony of the Games.
The Olympic flame is a globally-recognised symbol of the Olympics, and the parading of the flame represents the Olympic ideals of peace, unity and friendship. Through the Torch Relay the Olympic values are disseminated across the entire host country, and the relay serves to raise interest in and expectations for the Games.
Actually, there was no Olympic flame at the modern Olympics until the Amsterdam 1928 Games, when a cauldron was erected outside the main stadium. A proposal was made to continue this practice, which has continued until the present day.
The lighting of the Olympic flame is held several months before the beginning of the Olympics at the sacred site of ancient Olympia, near the temple of Hera. Hundreds of people then take their turn to carry the torch a short distance until it reaches the main site of the Games on the day of the Opening Ceremony. The final runners carry the torch into the stadium and the Olympic cauldron is then lit. The cauldron stays alight until the conclusion of the Games.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic TBs will be selected either through public offering or recommendations by the Prefecture Task Forces (PTFs), Olympic Torch Relay partners and others, in accordance with the concept of the Torch Relay, “Hope Lights Our Way,” and will play a role in spreading this message to a wide audience. Approximately, a total of 10,000 TBs are expected to participate.
The torch to be used for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay has been designed with a cherry blossom motif – a flower close to the hearts of all Japanese people. To coincide with the cherry blossom season in Japan, in March 2020 the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay will begin. The concept of the relay is 'Hope Lights Our Way' and the torch will tour the entire length and breadth of Japan.