Winter Olympic torch set to Orbit

26 June 2013 / 15:00

Officials organising the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games this week announced they will persist with plans to launch the Olympic torch into space, and send it on a spacewalk, as part of the Olympic Torch Relay in November.

The torch has previously been into space ahead of the 1996 Atlanta and Sydney 2000 Games but this is the first time it will actually be taken outside the spacecraft.

So in honour of this occasion we take a look at the history of the Olympic torch and bring you the weird and wonderful modes of transport it has taken in that time:


The torch travelled via skidoo into the Arctic Circle prior to the 1988 Calgary Games. It also made a dramatic entrance into the 1994 Lillehammer Games when a ski-jumper carried it into the stadium.


The torch Relay for the equestrian section of the 1956 Games - which was held separately to the main event in Stockholm - was carried out entirely on horseback. A camel carried the Torch across the Australian desert towards Sydney in 2000.


The Torch was first carried by aeroplane prior to the 1952 Helsinki Games. It travelled by Concorde from Athens to Paris for the 1992 Albertville Games, and was transferred between two parachute jumpers ahead of the 1994 Lillehammer Games. In 1976, it travelled via radio signal between Athens and Ottawa.


The Torch travelled by Indian canoe and Mississippi steamboat before the 1996 Atlanta Games. It sailed on a dragonboat around Hong Kong harbour in 2008, and a gondola in Venice on its way to Turin in 2006. It was held by a surfer en route to Vancouver 2010, and a diver carried it underwater at the Great Barrier Reef before the Sydney Games in 2000.

And of course the torch’s final journey to the Olympic stadium for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony was done by boat on the river Thames. First by rowing boat and the Queen’s Royal Barge ‘Gloriana’, and then by speed boat piloted by David Beckham.