The Olympic Games torch relay begins with the flame being lit by the sun's rays at the ancient site of Olympia, after which it is passed by torch from person to person all the way to the Olympic stadium in the host city.
While traditionally the torch was carried by a runner, over the years there have been some interesting other modes of transportation of the flame. Below is an alphabetical list of many of these unusual transport modes.
- airplane - the flame made its first trip in a plane when it traveled to Helsinki (Oslo 1952). The flame was also famously carried in the Concorde in 1992, but this was for the Winter Olympics.
- bus - the torch was transported in a bus to get around protesters while it was being paraded through Paris (Beijing 2008)
- bicycle - I am sure it has been on a bike at some time.
- boat - the flame traveled on the frigate Cataluña between Greece and Spain (Barcelona 1992) and has crossed the English Channel twice (London 1948, 2012).
- camel - the flame crossed the Australian desert by camel (Sydney 2000)
- canoe - the flame traveled in an Indian canoe (Atlanta 1996)
- dragon boat - the flame was carried by dragon boat in Hong Kong in 2008 (Beijing).
- horse - all carriers in the torch relay to Stockholm, where the equestrian events were held instead of in Melbourne, traveled on horseback (Melbourne/Stockholm 1956). Horses played a special role again when the history of the Pony express was featured as a part of a torch relay for Atlanta. (Atlanta 1996)
- rowing boat - the Australian Women's Rowing Eights team took the flame across Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra (Beijing 2008). In 2012, the Olympic Flame was carried in a rowing boat along the River Medway in Maidstone. (London 2012)
- running/walking - the torch relay for Berlin 1936, London 1948 and Moscow 1980 were completed solely by runners.
- satellite — the flame was sent by radio signal between Greece and Canada. Heat sensors were used in Athens to detect the flame, with the signal then sent by satellite where it was received and used to trigger a laser beam to re-light the flame in Ottawa. (Montreal 1976)
- space - the torch (but not the flame) has been carried into space by astronauts twice. (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000). The torch will also go on a space walk for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
- swimming - swimmers carried the flame from the boat Durango to the shore in the sea off Veracruz, Mexico (Mexico 1968), and a diver swam across the port of Marseilles holding the flame out of the water (Grenoble 1968)
- stock horse (Sydney 2000)
- solar car - the flame was carried by Annesley College solar car 'EOS' long the South Western freeway (Sydney 2000)
- steamboat - the torch traveled on a Mississippi steamboat (Atlanta 1996)
- tram - the torch traveled on a tram in Melbourne and Adelaide (Sydney 2000) and on four tramways in the UK (London 2012)
- underwater - a diver carried the flame under water at the Great Barrier Reef. Special technology was required, burning the flame at 2000 degrees Celsius, which stopped the water from going inside the tube.(Sydney 2000)
- wagon - the flame was carried on a wagon of the Union Pacific, commemorating the first transcontinental railroad. (Atlanta 1996)
- wheelchair - there have been many examples of wheelchair athletes and disabled people carrying the flame.
- zip wire - adventurer Bear Grylls zip-wired with the Olympic flame over the river Tyne into the parade ground of HMS Calliope, the Royal Navy's riverside training centre (London 2012).
Winter Games Torch Relay
There are a couple of special mentions of unusual transport methods of the flame for the Winter Olympics.
- Concorde - for 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, the torch flew from Athens to Paris on the Concorde jet
- parachute - for the first time in the history of the Olympics, the transfer of the flame took place between two parachute jumpers. (Lillehammer, 1994)
- on the snow - for the Winter Olympics, transport over the snow and ice gives the organizers more transport options, and the flame has been seen carried by skiers, dogsled, and snowmobile.
- List of torches from each Olympics
- About the Summer Olympics torch relay
- About the Olympic Flame and other Olympic Traditions