THOUSANDS of people are expected to gather in Plymouth when the city hosts the nation’s first evening celebration of the Olympic Torch Relay on May 19, 2012.
The event will be the first evening celebration during the 70-day, 8,000 mile torch relay leading up to the lighting of the Olympic Flame at the Olympic Stadium in London on 27 July.
The torch will arrive in Land’s End and make its way through Cornwall on the first day of the Torch Relay before arriving in Plymouth where thousands of spectators are expected to gather.
As part of the event the London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the presenting partners will stage entertainment shows and a cauldron will be lit from the Olympic Flame, marking the end of the day’s events.
Plymouth is the first of 66 Evening Celebration locations across the UK confirmed today by LOCOG. The evening events will offer thousands of people the opportunity to come together and get involved in celebrations and share in the Olympic spirit.
When the Olympic Torch was brought to the London games from Greece in 1948 it was carried aboard two Royal Navy ships – HMS Whitesand Bay and HMS Bicester, and the first man to carry it on Brotosh soil was a Petty Officer.
After leaving Plymouth the flame will be carried to Exeter for a carnival style street celebration.
The Olympic Flame will arrive in the UK from Greece on Friday 18 May 2012 and the 70 day Torch Relay will start at Land’s End, Cornwall on the morning of the 19 May 2012.
On leaving Land’s End, the Olympic Flame is expected to travel an estimated 8,000 miles across the UK, giving thousands of communities and individuals their moment to shine as the Olympic Flame comes to their doorstep.
The Olympic Flame will arrive at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 for the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, signifying the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Councillor Vivien Pengelly, leader of the Council, said: “We are delighted that Plymouth is hosting the first Olympic Torch Relay evening celebration event in the UK. It will be a wonderful opportunity for people in Plymouth to be part of the Olympic experience. People will be able to line the route as the torch arrives in Plymouth and then enjoy an evening of entertainment and witness the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron. I know that Plymouth will give the Olympic Torch relay team a very warm welcome.”
Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG said: “We are thrilled that Plymouth has agreed to host the Olympic Flame on its journey right across the UK. The Olympic Flame will shine a light right across Plymouth, celebrating the culture and heritage of the area and showcasing the very best of Plymouth. We have no doubt that the welcome Plymouth will provide will demonstrate how the spirit of the Olympic Games is reaching out across the UK and excitement builds as the start of the 2012 Games draws closer..”
Members of the public are also to get the chance to nominate “inspirational” individuals from their communities to make up the majority of the torchbearers who will carry the flame across the country.
More South West locations for the relay are expected to be revealed later this year, with the aim that 95 per cent of the population will be within a one hour journey time.
The Olympic Torch will arrive in the Duchy after being ignited at the site of the ancient Olympics in Olympia, Greece.
Eleven women, representing the Vestal Virgins, perform a ceremony in which the torch is kindled by the light of the sun’s rays concentrated on a mirror.
Its final carrier is likely to be a British sports celebrity, although organisers of London 2012 are keeping tight-lipped about their plans for the big moment, which has become increasingly high-tech over the years.
After being ignited, the flame burns throughout the Games and is extinguished at the closing ceremony.
The idea of the torch has its route in Greek history and mythology and the relay has been a part of the modern games since the 1940s.
Running for six weeks from today, the LOCOG Torchbearer programme to find 2,012 inspirational people who have gone beyond their personal best will see nominations judged by local panels set up in each Nation and Region of the UK.
Go to www.london2012.com/olympictorchrelay to make your nomination. The deadline for making nominations is 11.59pm on Wednesday 29 June 2011.