The Torch Relay begins with the kindling of the flame by the rays of the sun in Olympia, Greece, and is followed by a relay around Greece. The flame is then transported to the host country where a Torch Relay is conducted until the Opening Ceremony of the Games.
The flame is a globally-recognized symbol of the, and the parading of the flame represents the ideals of peace, unity and friendship. Through the Torch Relay the values are disseminated across the entire host country, and the relay serves to raise interest in and expectations for the Games.
Actually, there was no flame at the modern event until the Amsterdam 1928 Games, when a cauldron was erected outside the main stadium. A proposal was made to continue this practice, which has continued until the present day.
The lighting of the flame is held several months before the beginning of the games at the sacred site of ancient Olympia, near the temple of Hera. Hundreds of people then take their turn to carry the torch a short distance until it reaches the main site of the Games on the day of the Opening Ceremony. The final runners carry the torch into the stadium and the cauldron is then lit. The cauldron stays alight until the conclusion of the Games.
The flame is often associated with a message of peace and hope, as it is carried around the host nation, and as such has become one of the most powerful symbols of the Movement. In 2021, the flame will not only symbolize the sunrise of a new era spreading the hope that will light our way, but will also serve to spread the joy and passion of the Japanese around the movement as the Games approach.
Upon its arrival in Japan, the flame will initially be put on display at various locations in the Tohoku region, to help underscore this message of hope in the areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.