Let the Olympics begin…officially with the lights of the Olympic Cauldron.
Since 1936, the Olympic torch relay has served as a reminder to the world of the rich tradition that ties the modern Olympics to the ancient Olympics. Originating in Olympia, Greece, the torch continued to be lit in Greece before passing through the host country in the months leading up to the Olympics.
While thousands of people join the torch relay as torchbearers, the most memorable moments often come at the end of the Opening Ceremony as the torch passes through the venue and towards the Olympic Cauldron. Although every host city celebrates its cauldron lighting, one thing remains consistent – the fact that it marks the official start of the Olympics.
Here’s more on the tradition of the Olympic Cauldron, some of the notable people who have lit the cauldron in the past, and what the world can expect to see in Beijing this year.
What is the Olympic Cauldron?
The Olympic Cauldron is a structure typically located at the site of the Opening Ceremony and signifying the end of the Olympic torch relay. It is usually lit in the middle of the Opening Ceremony and is considered the official start date of the Olympic Games.
Similar to the Olympic medal, the Cauldron design is another opportunity for the host city to highlight the ideals of both their country and the Olympic movement at large, and set the tone for the Games.
Who lit the Olympic Cauldron?
The choice of athletes or groups of athletes to light the Olympic Cauldron is up to the host country. In some cases, they will select notable former athletes, rising stars or sometimes a non-athlete important to that particular country.
Who are some notable people who have lit the Olympic Cauldron in the past?
You think you have to be an Olympic athlete to light the Olympic Cauldron? Think again (although it might help your odds). Athletes, dignitaries and everyday people all play a role in lighting the Olympic Cauldron.
Several notable athletes have had the honor of releasing the torch including Wayne Gretzky (2010 Vancouver), Muhammad Ali (1996 Los Angeles) and most recently Naomi Osaka (2020 Tokyo).
In other cases, the host country chooses the more symbolic option, one that represents the enduring spirit of the Olympics and the city’s unique history. In 1964, Japan chose Yoshinori Sakai, who was born in Hiroshima on the day an atomic bomb was dropped, as a symbol of Japan’s rebirth. 1976 Montreal game begins with the cauldron lit by two Canadian teenagers who represent the French and English speaking parts of the country.
More recently, some of the host countries have chosen to perform larger, more colorful endings featuring a large group of representatives. When Gretzky lit the cauldron in 2010, he was part of a quartet of Canadian athletes that included current Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash. Just two years later, London surpassed that number with seven teenagers – each nominated by a former British Olympic champion – lighting up the base of the cauldron.
Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, was the only dignitary to light the cauldron, doing so at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Games on behalf of his father and grandfather, who both represented Norway in rowing.
Who lit the cauldron at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics?
Figure skater Yuna Kim lights up the most recent Winter Olympic Cauldron in South Korea. Kim, who won gold in 2010 and silver in 2014, skated around a small ice rink on the top floor of the stadium before lighting up the base fire with a ladder climbing to the cauldron.
Who was the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron?
Enriqueta Basilio was the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Basilio was 20 years old when she represented Mexico in the track sprint.
Since then, 15 women have participated in the cauldron lighting ceremony.
When does the Beijing 2022 Olympic Relay start?
The Olympic torch was lit on October 18 in Greece before being quickly transported to Beijing. A long tradition of both the ancient and modern Olympic Games, the torch usually spends a week in Greece before traveling around the host country. However, officials chose to immediately send the torch to Beijing this year, quote concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic.
When will we know who is lighting the Olympic cauldron in Beijing?
An announcement about who will light the next Olympic cauldron may not be made until just before the Opening Ceremony. However, as the Olympics get closer, expect to hear some buzz about the Chinese delegation’s potential options.
https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/sports/beijing-winter-olympics/who-has-lit-the-cauldron-at-the-winter-olympics/3133645/ Who Lighted the Cauldron at the Winter Olympics? – NBC10 Philadelphia