Skip to main content

Get ready to watch the Opening Ceremony: Final torch bearer

2015 Getty Images

Get ready to watch the Opening Ceremony: Final torch bearer

The moment the final torchbearer receives the Olympic flame is one which ignites much more than the cauldron within the stadium.

The drama of the Opening Ceremony builds to the moment when the Olympic flame finally arrives inside the stadium and is passed to the final torch bearer to light the Olympic cauldron.

In 1984, Los Angeles was the stage for Rafer Johnson to become the first African-American to light the Olympic cauldron. Johnson was already in the record books as the first African-American to act as flag bearer for the United States delegation during the Parade of Nations in 1960 in Rome.



Rafer Johnson lights the Olympic cauldron at the 1984 Los Angeles Opening Ceremony

Rafer Johnson lights the Olympic cauldron at the 1984 Los Angeles Opening Ceremony. Credit: Ronald C. Modra/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Two women famously broke down barriers as final torch bearers. Norma Enriqueta Basilio became the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.



Norma Enriqueta Basilio first woman to light Olympic cauldron

Mexico's Norma Enriqueta Basilio becomes the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron in 1968. Credit: (C) 1968 / Comite International Olympique (CIO)

At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Australian track star Cathy Freeman proudly represented the oppressed Aborigine people on the grandest of Olympic stages as she lit a cauldron which surrounded her with fire and falling water as it ascended to the top of the stadium.



Cathy Freeman lights the Olympic cauldron during the 2000 Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony

Cathy Freeman lights the Olympic cauldron during the 2000 Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony Credit: Al Tielemans/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

A moment which no doubt had many wondering, "Is this a good idea?"; Spanish Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo fired a flaming arrow skyward toward Barcelona's Olympic cauldron in 1992, igniting the flame like no one had ever done before.



1992 Barcelona archer lights Olympic flame

Spanish Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo prepares to light Barcelona's Olympic cauldron with a flaming arrow. Credit: (C) 1992 / Comite International Olympique (CIO) / STRAHM, Jean-Jacques

Competing and winning gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics under a name he would later abandon, Muhammad Ali made a champion's return to the Olympic Games to light Atlanta's 1996 cauldron to deafening cheers, while revealing his personal battle with the effects of Parkinson's disease.



Muhammad Ali lights the Olympic cauldron at the 1996 Atlanta Opening Ceremony

Muhammad Ali lights the Olympic cauldron at the 1996 Atlanta Opening Ceremony Credit: Michael Cooper/Getty Images

At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony, China's 1984 gymnastics gold medalist on rings, Li Ning, was hoisted into the air and circled the stadium before he lit the paper scroll-inspired cauldron as spectators watched from below.



2008 Beijing Olympic flame lit by Li Ning

China's Li Ning lights the 2008 Beijing Olympic cauldron while suspended in midair. Credit: (C) 2000 / Comite International Olympique (CIO) / JONES, Ian

The 2012 London Opening Ceremony saw seven young Olympic hopefuls, each nominated by a former Olympic champion of Great Britain, ignite a cauldron of 204 splayed 'petals,' one for every nation competing at the Games.  The petals then moved to an upright position forming the Olympic cauldron on the stadium floor.



Seven of Great Britain's aspiring Olympians light the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Seven of Great Britain's aspiring Olympians light the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Credit: USA Today Photos/Kirby Lee

Get ready to watch the Opening Ceremony

Click the options below for more details:

Olympic flame | Final torch bearer | Parade of nations

Athlete uniforms | Artistic program | Olympic flag and anthem

Olympic oath | Heads of state | Release of doves

More from {{firstLevel.more_from}}

{{firstLevel.data.roofline_text}}

{{firstLevel.data.title}}

{{firstLevel.data.short_desc}}

See More Coverage

More from {{secondLevel.more_from}}

More from Olympics

+