The South American Flame

The Olympic Flame, a symbol of the union of different nationalities, languages, religions and races for a peaceful world, and a tradition that dates back to the Ancient Olympic Games in Greece, has a South American equivalent: the South American Flame. In June 1978, during its 3rd congress, ODESUR (South American Sports Organization) decided that the Bolivian city of Tiahuanaco, for its historical significance, would be the starting point of the Flame for every edition of the South America Games.

On every edition of the Olympic Games, the Flame is lit in the ruins of the city of Olympia, Greece, and torch-bearers take turns carrying it on a journey that ends in the Host City, on the first day of the Games. That’s when, in the Opening Ceremony, the final torchbearer lights the monumental cauldron of the Olympic Stadium. The Flame will remain lit for the duration of the Games and is extinguished at the Closing Ceremony.

The South American Flame is lit during an ancient ceremony in historic ruins of Tiahuanaco and taken to the Host City of the Games. Located on the shore of the Titicaca Lake, in the Andes, Tiahuanaco was the center of the great Amawta civilization, which ruled most of South America during XI and XII centuries. The Amawta civilization boasted high technological and artistic knowledge and was richer and more powerful than the Incas themselves.

Along the seven editions of the South American Games, the Flame was carried by several important athletes such as Peruvian Cecilia Tai, volleyball silver medalist at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games. In the latest edition of the Games, the South American Flame was lit by the Amawta council of Tiahuanaco on the 18th of June 2002 and relayed to the Brazilian cities of Belém, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.