London 1948

Olympic Games London 1948

London 1948The Torch


Route Design and Details

To recall the truce during the ancient Games, the first torchbearer, soldier Konstantinos Dimitrelis, symbolically removed his uniform, put down his weapons and began the relay in sportswear.

Owing the Civil War in Greece, the relay initially planned from Olympia to Athens was cancelled and diverted to Katakolon, on the coast near Olympia. From there, the flame sailed to Italy, via the island of Corfu, where a relay was also held.

24 July 1948: In Lausanne, the relay stopped off at the Bois de Vaux cemetery, where the grave of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, is located.

The flame reached England on 28 July at Dover and arrived at Wembley Stadium the following day, during the Opening Ceremony, during which the cauldron was lit.

The day after the Opening Ceremony, a flame was lit from the cauldron in Wembley Stadium, and a 330km relay involving 107 runners kicked off, heading to the town of Torquay, where another cauldron was lit and burned during the sailing events.

Map of the Route


Facts and Figures

Start date: 17 July 1948, Olympia (Greece)

End date: 29 July 1948, Wembley Stadium, London (United Kingdom)

First torchbearer: Konstantinos Dimitrelis

Last torchbearer: John Marks

Number of torchbearers: 1,416 (London-Torquay relay excluded): 30 in Greece, 762 in Italy, 135 in Switzerland, 270 in France, 38 in Luxembourg, 108 in Belgium, 73 in England

Recruitment of torchbearers: For Italy, the torchbearers came from the army. In England, the torchbearers were chosen from amongst runners from clubs affiliated with the County Amateur Athletic Associations. Preference was given to clubs located in the area through which the torch relay route passed.

Distance: 3,365km (London-Torquay relay excluded): 700km by boat, of which 250km was between Katakolon and Corfu, and 2,665km on land, of which ~ 35km was in Greece.

Countries visited: Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, United Kingdom

Torch Details

Description: On the upper part, the torch bears the inscription “Olympia to London with thanks to the bearer XIVth Olympiad 1948", as well as the carved and traced Olympic symbol.

Colour: Silver

Height: 40.5cm

Composition: Steel, aluminium

Fuel: Hexamine tablets with 6 per cent naphthalene

Designer / Manufacturer: Ralph Lavers / E.M.I. Factories Ltd, High Dury Alloys Ltd.


Did You Know?

To burn for the total duration of its transport by boat from Greece to Italy, a special burner fed by butane with a 48-hour burn time was designed for the flame.

A special torch (presented above) was made for the last torchbearer. So that the flame would be brighter in the Stadium, a magnesium flare was used. The burner was of stainless steel. The combustion duration of the wick was 10 minutes.


Discover the Games

The Brand

A visual identity is developed for each edition of the Olympic Games.



The Medals

Beginning as an olive wreath, medal designs have evolved over the years.



The Torch

An iconic part of any Olympic Games, each host offers their unique version.