From Ancient Olympia to the opening ceremony, the Olympic flame has played a big part in the Games for nearly a century.
Flames burn in the Olympic cauldron after being lit during the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016.
Over the years, the flame has played an increasingly larger role at the opening ceremony, with the identity of the final torch bearer – often former Olympic greats from the host country – being the topic of feverish discussion.
Jorge Alberto Oliveira Gomes lights the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016.
The Olympic cauldron rises in this multiple exposure photo (L) after Nikolas Kaklamanakis (R) lights it during the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games, Athens, Friday, Aug. 13, 2004.
The photo on the left is a single frame time exposure interrupted at six intervals while the Olympic cauldron rises after being lit.
Soviet athlete Sergei Belov runs past the Olympic team from Afghanistan with the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games, Moscow, the former USSR, Saturday, July 20, 1980.
A number of teams boycotted the ceremony to protest the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
The Olympic torch in Lustgarten, Berlin, is lit on Aug. 1, 1936, where it was guarded by members of the Hitler Youth until it was brought to the Olympic stadium for the opening of the games in the afternoon. The torch relay was not always a fixture of the modern Olympics that began in 1896. The relay tradition began with Adolph Hitler's 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany.