It all started in Ancient Greece. The Ancient Greeks considered fire to be a divine element, and they maintained perpetual fires in front of their principal temples. This was the case in the sanctuary of Olympia, where the Ancient Olympic Games took place.
The flame was lit using the rays of the sun, to ensure its purity, and a skaphia, the ancestor of the parabolic mirror used today for lighting the Olympic flame. A flame burned permanently on the altar of the goddess Hestia, and such fires were also lit on the altars of Zeus and Hera, in front of whose temple the Olympic flame is lit today.
In the context of the modern Games, the Olympic flame represents the positive values that Man has always associated with fire. The purity of the flame is guaranteed by the way it is lit using the sun‟s rays. The choice of Olympia as a departure point emphasizes the link between the Ancient and Modern Games and underlines the profound connection between these two events.
The relay precedes the arrival of the flame at its final destination: the Olympic stadium in the host city of the Olympic Games. The Organizing committee of the Olympic Games is responsible for bringing the Olympic flame to the Olympic stadium. When the flame finally arrives at its destination, the final torchbearer(s) run into the stadium to light the Olympic cauldron with the flame, which remains lit for the duration of the Games and is extinguished only at the Closing Ceremony of the Games.
Like the messengers who proclaimed the sacred Olympic truce, the runners who carry the Olympic flame carry a message of peace on their journey.