Opinion

Guo Chuan
First Chinese offshore sailor, Olympic torch bearer 2008 and 2016, Champion for Peace

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22/04/2016 par Guo Chuan

One with the Flame…Carrying the light for peace

In the modern era, the Olympic Flame has been a powerful symbol of peace, unity and solidarity. Last week, again, the Olympic Flame was lit in Greece spreading the message of understanding and friendship globally.

For Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games about 12,000 torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame 20,000 kilometres by road and 10,000 miles by air. Along its journey the Flame will promote the historic Olympic motto of higher, faster and stronger. This motto can be understood as the active participation regardless of the results. That is the attitude, effort and process that count. It is all about building common goals.

During the Olympic Games, people have an opportunity to sit together and dialogue. People forget their differences and forge friendships. In the competition arena, there is no distinction between nationalities, religions or the colour of the skin among the athletes. Disagreements are no longer important.

The Flame urge us, the athletes and sport actors who had the lifelong honour to carry the torch relay, to take part in spreading the message of peace. As a Chinese professional sailor, I carried the Beijing Olympic Flame in 2008 in Qingdao City, which is the sailing capital of China. It was the first time in the history of the Olympic Games that the Olympic torch was carried on a sailing boat. I had mixed feelings while transporting the Flame. On one hand, I felt the flame very close to me, and on the other, I had the impression that the flame was really far from me, considering it was from a very distant country.

For Rio 2016, I had the chance to attend the official Lightening Ceremony of the Olympic Flame in Olympia, in Greece. For that occasion, I also had the great opportunity to carry the Olympic torch across the famous Rio-Antirrio Bridge in Greece. It was an invaluable experience that allowed me to feel the Olympic Games’ spirit.

In terms of logistic and design, the host city always try to leave its foot prints on the Olympic torch relay. For example, the torch design and torchbearers’ uniform is different on every occasion. In 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Olympic torch and the torchbearers’ uniforms had ‘auspicious cloud’ designs, which represent the Chinese culture. For Rio 2016, the uniforms have double-coloured pattern: yellow and green colour representing Brazil’s national flag.

Even though differences exist at the Olympic Games in terms of the Olympic Flame and the torch relay, there is always one important similarity. The Flame continuously brings optimism to a world that it is dealing with war and conflicts. People from all around the world feel hope and get excited for the torch relay. In addition, the Olympic torch relay is a reminder of our impermanence. It symbolizes both a tangible journey- the Flame travelling from one country to another country- and a lifetime journey -the cycle of life from this generation to the next one.
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