Rather interestingly the Torch Relay was first introduced ahead of the Summer Olympics of 1936, which was scheduled for Berlin in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. There are those who would suggest that it was actually an idea of the then organisers of the 1936 Olympic Games.
Whatever about its origins there is little doubt that since its introduction the Olympic Torch and the Torch Relay have become important symbols to the International Olympic Movement, which has itself always been steeped in symbolism dating back to the Games of antiquity. The Olympic Torch Relay is intended to reflect the peace and harmony that the Olympic Games, the world’s greatest sporting spectacle, are capable of engendering among peoples everywhere.
Within the past several decades, however, the Olympic Torch Relay has become something of a commercial venture with several different organisations bidding for the contract to plan and manage the undertaking inclusive of attracting major sponsors.
The Organising Committee is the final determinant of the route taken by the Torch Relay. However, there are those within the Olympic Movement who often challenge the basis on which the route of the Olympic Torch Relay is determined. It is often the case that while all are of the understanding that the Olympic Torch should always be lit in Ancient Olympia and end at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in the host country, there seems to be a belief that it should be taken to cities that are likely to elevate the profile of the event and bolster the image of the activity more as an economic venture than what it should really symbolise. Cities of small countries, however, long their respective National Olympic Committees (NOC) have been affiliated to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), find themselves almost always outside the loop of the Olympic Torch relay, comparable to outside children in the family in times past.