Shining a light on excellence
One of the most dramatic events of an Olympic Games is the Olympic torch relay, which involves thousands of people and covers much of a host country’s geography. No other aspect of the Games is seen in person by as many people, and it is one of the few chances a non-participant can have to feel a sense of personal involvement. At times, the relay has also traveled into space, the summit of Mt. Everest, and beneath the sea! Olympic torches truly “light the way” to the Games.
The first Olympic Games to have a torch relay was the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin, Germany. The flame was ignited by the sun in Olympia, Greece, site of the ancient Olympics, and carried by a relay of runners and torches to Berlin where the flame ignited a huge cauldron at the Olympic stadium. The relay proved to be such a success, it became an integral part of the Olympic Games.
Read this story about the sun-lighting of the torch for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, which featured a reenactment of days of ancient Greece.
The quantity of torches produced for a particular Olympic varies greatly; for some Games, only 10 or so torches are made, while for others 10,000 or more are produced. Although some collectors prefer one type or another, the values of Olympic torches do not tend to vary based upon their use in the relay.