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London 2012: What is the Olympic torch relay?

Wednesday 18 May 2011

From 18 May 2012 the Olympic torch relay will tour the UK in the run up to the London Games – taking 70 days, with about 8,000 torchbearers.

Organisers say 95% of the country’s population should be within one hour of the route which will end with the lighting of the cauldron during the opening ceremony in the Olympic stadium, Stratford.

An Olympic flame first burned at the Amsterdam Games, 1928, but it was not until 1936 that a relay with a torch took shape, under the Nazi regime and sports organiser Carl Diem.

A flame was kindled in Olympia using the sun and a parabolic mirror, then carried to the Berlin stadium by runners through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia – countries that later would fall under Nazi domination.

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