List of torchbearers who have lit the Olympic cauldron

The tradition of carrying the Olympic flame from Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the Ancient Olympic Games, to the host city of the modern Olympic Games via a torch relay was first introduced in 1936, ahead of the 1936 Summer Olympics. Since then, famous athletes (active or retired) with significant sporting achievements while representing the host country, promising young athletes, or other individuals with symbolic significance, have been selected as the last runners in the Olympic torch relay and consequently have the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony.

Dinigeer Yilamujiang and Zhao Jiawen are the most recent persons to lit the cauldron at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022
Naomi Osaka is the most recent person to have lit the cauldron at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 (held in 2021)
Gina Zehnder is the most recent person to have lit the cauldron at the Youth Olympics in Lausanne in 2020


The first well-known major athlete to light the cauldron was nine-time Olympic champion Paavo Nurmi at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. Other famous final torch bearers include French football star Michel Platini (1992), heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (1996), Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman (2000), the Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky (2010), the marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima (2016) and the South Korean figure skating champion Yuna Kim (2018).

On other occasions, the people who lit the cauldron were not famous but nevertheless symbolized the Olympic ideals. Japanese runner Yoshinori Sakai was born in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day the city was destroyed by an atomic bomb. He symbolized the rebirth of Japan after the Second World War when he lit the Olympic cauldron of the 1964 Summer Olympics. At the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, two teenagers—representing the French- and the English-speaking parts of the country—symbolized the unity of Canada. Rafer Johnson became the first person of African descent to light the cauldron at the 1984 Summer Olympics.[1] Norway's Crown Prince Haakon lit the cauldron of the 1994 Winter Olympics, in honor of his father and grandfather, both Olympians. For the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, seven aspiring young athletes—each nominated by a former British Olympic champion—had the honor of lighting the cauldron.

People who have lit the Olympic cauldronEdit

Games Location Lighter Sport Note Ref
1936 Summer Berlin Fritz Schilgen Track and field Schilgen was not a competitor at the Olympics, but was chosen for his graceful running style. [2]
1948 Summer London John Mark Track and field Little-known former medical student from Cambridge University. [3]
1952 Winter Oslo Eigil Nansen Non-athlete Grandson of polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen. He is the first non-athlete to light the flame. [4]
1952 Summer Helsinki Paavo Nurmi Track and field Nurmi was a winner of nine Olympic gold medals in the 1920s; Kolehmainen won four Olympic gold medals. Nurmi lit a cauldron on field level before handing the torch to four football players who relayed the torch to the top of the tower. Kolehmainen then lit the final, higher-placed cauldron. [5]
Hannes Kolehmainen
1956 Winter Cortina d'Ampezzo Guido Caroli Speed skating Participant in the 1948, 1952, and 1956 Winter Olympics. Skating with the torch, he tripped over a television cable but kept the flame burning. [6]
1956 Summer Melbourne Ron Clarke (Melbourne) Track and field Clarke would later win an Olympic bronze medal in 1964; Wikne participated in the 1964 Olympics. After Wikne lit the brazier on the infield, the flame was passed on to Karin Lindberg and Henry Ericksson, who separately ran up the two towers of the Stockholm Olympic Stadium. [7]
Hans Wikne (Stockholm) Equestrianism
1960 Winter Squaw Valley Ken Henry Speed skating Olympic champion in 500m speed skating at the 1952 Winter Olympics. [8]
1960 Summer Rome Giancarlo Peris Track and field Track athlete of Greek descent. The Italian National Olympic Committee decided that the last torchbearer of the Olympics would be the winner of a junior cross country running race. Peris won and was chosen to be the last torchbearer. [9]
1964 Winter Innsbruck Josef Rieder Alpine skiing Participant in the 1956 Winter Olympics. [10]
1964 Summer Tokyo Yoshinori Sakai Track and field Sakai was born on the same day the atom bomb exploded over his native Hiroshima. He did not participate in the Olympics. [11]
1968 Winter Grenoble Alain Calmat Figure skating Winner of the silver medal in the 1964 Winter Olympics. [12]
1968 Summer Mexico City Enriqueta Basilio Track and field Sprinter who participated in these Olympics; the first woman to light the main Olympic cauldron. [13]
1972 Winter Sapporo Hideki Takada (高田 英基, Takada Hideki) Non-athlete A sixteen year old Japanese student. [14][15]
1972 Summer Munich Günther Zahn Track and field Middle distance runner. Winner of the West German junior athletics championships. [16]
1976 Winter Innsbruck Christl Haas Alpine skiing Haas won gold on downhill in 1964 Winter Olympics; Feistmantl won luge doubles in the same Games. [17]
Josef Feistmantl Luge
1976 Summer Montreal Sandra Henderson Gymnastics Two teenagers representing English and French Canadian. Neither of them participated in any Olympics. [18]
Stéphane Préfontaine Track and field
1980 Winter Lake Placid Charles Kerr Non-athlete A psychiatrist from Arizona who had been elected from all 52 torch relay bearers to run the final leg. [19][20]
1980 Summer Moscow Sergei Belov Basketball Member of the Soviet basketball team, gold medalist at the 1972 Summer Olympics. [21]
1984 Winter Sarajevo Sanda Dubravčić Figure skating Participant in the 1980 and 1984 Winter Olympics. [22]
1984 Summer Los Angeles Rafer Johnson Track and field Decathlon gold medalist at the 1960 Summer Olympics; the first person of African descent to lit the Olympic cauldron [23]
1988 Winter Calgary Robyn Perry Figure skating A 12-year-old schoolgirl and aspiring figure skater. [24]
1988 Summer Seoul Chung Sun-man Non-athlete Chung Sun-man was a schoolteacher. Sohn was a young Korean dancer. Kim Won-tak was a young track athlete who took part in that Games' marathon. [25]
Sohn Mi-chung
Kim Won-tak Track and field
1992 Winter Albertville Michel Platini Association football Platini took part with the French football team in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Grange was a future alpine skier (and older brother of future multiple-time alpine skiing Slalom world champion Jean-Baptiste Grange). Aged nine at the time, Grange became the youngest final lighter in history. [26]
François-Cyrille Grange Alpine skiing
1992 Summer Barcelona Antonio Rebollo Archery Paralympian who competed in the 1984, 1988, and 1992 Summer Paralympics, winning two silvers and a bronze. The only Paralympian ever to light the Olympic cauldron, Rebollo shot a flaming arrow over an open natural gas cauldron to ignite it. [27]
1994 Winter Lillehammer Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway Non-athlete Heir apparent to the throne of Norway. Though he was not an Olympian, both his father and grandfather took part in the Olympics and he lit the cauldron on their behalf. His father declared the Games open. [28]
1996 Summer Atlanta Muhammad Ali Boxing 1960 Summer Olympics light heavyweight boxing gold medalist; the first Muslim to light the main Olympic cauldron. [29]
1998 Winter Nagano Midori Ito Figure skating 1992 Winter Olympic silver medalist. [30]
2000 Summer Sydney Cathy Freeman Track and field Olympic silver medalist in 1996 and would later win Olympic gold in these Olympics, both in the 400 m. She is the only person ever to light a cauldron and win a gold medal in the same Games. Cathy was also chosen as part of the celebration of 100 years of women being included in the Olympics, she was passed the Olympic flame in the final lighting of the flame by 5 other Australian women who are significant in Australian Olympic history. [31]
2002 Winter Salt Lake City The 1980 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team Ice hockey Famous for the "Miracle on Ice"; an upset of the Soviet hockey team en route to the gold medal. [32]
2004 Summer Athens Nikolaos Kaklamanakis Sailing Winner of Olympic gold in 1996 and would win a silver in these Olympics. [33]
2006 Winter Turin Stefania Belmondo Cross-country skiing Winner of ten Olympic medals, two of them gold. One of Italy's most decorated Olympians. [34]
2008 Summer Beijing Li Ning Artistic gymnastics Winner of six Olympic medals, including three gold in 1984. He was China's most successful athlete at their first Olympic appearance since 1952. [35]
2010 Winter Vancouver Steve Nash (indoor cauldron) Basketball Le May Doan was a winner of two gold medals in the 500 m in 1998 and 2002 and a bronze in the 1000 m in 1998. Nash is a two-time NBA MVP with the Phoenix Suns and a former member of the Canadian Olympic Basketball team, playing in 2000 Summer Olympics. Greene won gold in the giant slalom and silver in the slalom in 1968 Winter Olympics. Gretzky was a member of the Canadian ice hockey team and won four Stanley Cup titles as captain of the Edmonton Oilers (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988). He was the executive director of the Canadian men's hockey team in 2002, who won gold at that Games.

During the opening ceremony, Nash, Greene and Gretzky lit a cauldron inside the BC Place indoor stadium. Gretzky then lit a second, outdoor cauldron near the Vancouver Convention Centre. Only the outdoor cauldron remained lit throughout the Games.

Le May Doan was supposed to participate in the lighting of the indoor cauldron, but was left out when one of the four arms failed to raise due to mechanical problems. This was corrected at the beginning of the closing ceremony, when a joke was made about the mechanical error, and she was able to light the newly emerged fourth arm and relight the indoor cauldron to begin the closing ceremony.

Nancy Greene Raine (indoor cauldron) Alpine skiing
Wayne Gretzky (indoor & outdoor cauldrons) Ice hockey
Catriona Le May Doan (closing ceremony) Speed skating
2012 Summer London Desirèe Henry Track and field The cauldron was lit by seven teenagers, each nominated by a veteran British Olympian:

Austin Playfoot later relit the cauldron in its new spot in the Olympic Stadium. Duckitt was the only non-athlete among them.

Henry would later go on to win an Olympic bronze medal in the 4 × 100 m in 2016.

Katie Kirk
Aidan Reynolds
Adelle Tracey
Callum Airlie Sailing
Jordan Duckitt Non-athlete (Young Ambassadors Group)
Cameron MacRitchie Rowing
2014 Winter Sochi Irina Rodnina Figure skating Rodnina won three successive Olympic gold medals in figure skating. Tretiak also won three golds (and four medals overall), in ice hockey. [42]
Vladislav Tretiak Ice hockey
2016 Summer Rio de Janeiro Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima
(stadium cauldron)
Athletics Winner of the bronze medal in the marathon of the 2004 Summer Olympics. De Lima was the first Latin American awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal after he was deliberately interrupted during that event. [43][44]
Jorge Gomes
(public cauldron)
A second, outdoor cauldron was lit in front of Candelaria Church by a 14-year-old, who was part of a sports project in Rio de Janeiro.
2018 Winter Pyeongchang Yuna Kim Figure skating Winner of Olympic gold in the ladies' singles in 2010 and silver in 2014. [45]
2020 Summer Tokyo Naomi Osaka (stadium cauldron) Tennis Japanese tennis player who participated in the Games, winner of four singles Grand Slams, and world #2 player at the time of the Games. [46]
Ayaka Takahashi (public cauldron) Badminton A second, outdoor cauldron was lit at the Ariake Yume-no-Ohashi Bridge in Tokyo Waterfront by retired Japanese badminton player who won gold in 2016.
2022 Winter Beijing Dinigeer Yilamujiang Cross-country skiing Cross-country skier Dilnigar Ilhamjan (Dinigeer Yilamujiang) and Nordic combined athlete Zhao Jiawen, both born in the 2000s, had the honour of lighting the Cauldron.

Dilnigar qualified for the Beijing 2022, having become the first Chinese cross-country skiing medallist in an International Ski Federation-level event, finishing second in the opening women's leg of a three-leg sprint series in Beijing in March 2019. Important to mention, Dilnigar is a Uyghur from Altay, a city not far from the birthplace of skiing sport.

Zhao will become the first Chinese athlete to compete in Nordic combined in an Winter Olympic Games.

Zhao Jiawen Nordic combined

Youth OlympicsEdit

Games Location Lighter Sport Note Ref
2010 Summer Youth Singapore Darren Choy Sailing A Singaporean sailor who participated in the Games.
2012 Winter Youth Innsbruck Egon Zimmermann Alpine skiing Both Zimmerman and Klammer won the gold in the downhill event in 1964 and 1976 respectively, both years when Austria previously hosted the Winter Olympics.
Franz Klammer
2014 Summer Youth Nanjing Chen Ruolin Diving Winner of back-to-back gold medals in diving in 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, in the 10 m and the 10 m synchronized. She would retain the latter's gold medal in 2016 Summer Olympics.
2016 Winter Youth Lillehammer Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway Non-athlete Elder child of Crown Prince Haakon, who previously lit the cauldron in the 1994 Winter Olympic Olympics. Her grandfather declared the Games open. [49]
2018 Summer Youth Buenos Aires Santiago Lange and Paula Pareto Sailing and judo As Buenos Aires 2018 was the first edition of an Olympic competition with gender equality, the lighting of the cauldron was carried out by a woman and a man. Pareto won bronze at Beijing 2008 and gold at Rio 2016 Olympics; Lange, won bronze at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympics and was Olympic champion at Rio 2016 Games. [50]
2020 Winter Youth Lausanne Gina Zehnder Figure skating Youngest athlete of the Swiss delegation competing in the Games.

See alsoEdit


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  6. ^ "Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956". 24 April 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
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  9. ^ "Rome 1960". 24 April 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
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  48. ^ "Chinese athletes Zhao Jiawen and Dinigeer Yilamujiang deliver the final Olympic flame at the Beijing Games".
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  50. ^ "THE CAULDRON THAT LIT UP THE HEART OF BUENOS AIRES". International Olympic Committee. 7 October 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2018.

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