In the sanctuary of Olympia, where the Ancient Olympic Games took place, a flame burned permanently on the altar of the goddess Hestia, situated in the Prytaneum. The divine origin of fire made it a sacred element. The Greeks maintained perpetual fires in front of their main temples. The purity of this fire was guaranteed by the ignition technique: the flame was obtained by the rays of the sun. Captured at the centre of a recipient called a skaphia, the ancestor of the parabolic mirror used today for lighting the Olympic flame, the rays caused an intense heat which allowed a flame to be obtained.
In the context of the modern Games, the Olympic flame represents the positive values that Man has always associated with fire. The choice of Olympia as a departure point emphasises the link between the Ancient and Modern Games and underlines the profound connection between these two events.