by STIRworldMay 13, 2022
Despite the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris being a full year away from their official commencement, an essential element of this highly awaited event, and arguably one of the most recognisable items in the realm of sports, has finally been revealed to the public: the Olympic Torch. The Olympic Torch will take centre stage during the torch relay that will commence in France on May 8, 2024. This year the torch has been designed by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, who collaborated with the Luxembourg-based steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal to bring his vision to reality. Lehanneur’s design follows the Tokyo 2020 torch, designed by contemporary Japanese artist and designer Tokujin Yoshioka, resembling cherry blossoms, the national flower of Japan.
After taking a pivotal role at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, and two weeks of fierce competition, the torch will embark on another journey for the Paralympic Torch Relay, to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games on August 28, 2024.
Drawing inspiration from the essence of the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, Lehanneur created the torch reflecting on the core themes of equality, water and peacefulness. The Paris Games will be the first-ever to feature an equal number of male and female participants, a concept extended to the Paralympic Games as well. The organising committee for the Games has also committed to putting the same vision into organising the Paralympic Games as the Olympic Games; just like the emblem and mascots, the torch design remains the same for both events. "As part of our strategy to build bridges between the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the latter already shared the same emblem and mascot with the former," said Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 Games. To convey this message of equality, the torch is designed to be perfect in symmetry, both horizontally and vertically.
The torch design skilfully integrates ripples and reflections on the smooth metallic surface, representing the second element of the torch’s concept—water. This also pays tribute to Paris' renowned Seine River. For centuries, dating back to ancient Greece, the Olympic Flame has conveyed a powerful message of unity to people and nations. Rooted in a thousand-year-old tradition, it serves as a symbol of the cherished Olympic truce. The Olympic torch embodies a sense of tenderness through its gracefully curved and rounded lines in harmony with this aspiration for the third theme of peace. "Designing the Olympic Torch is a designer’s dream: a dream that only comes true once in a lifetime, like a miraculous encounter with history. As ritualistic as it is magical, the torch is a mythical object. As a symbol of cohesion and sharing, it is the veritable key to opening the Games. It will cross thousands of kilometers, passed from hand to hand, over land and sea," mentions Lehanneur in an official statement.
Crafted in a chic champagne hue, the torch is meticulously fashioned from steel in collaboration with ArcelorMittal, the Official Partner of the Games. The torches will be manufactured utilising 100 per cent recycled steel sourced from scraps. In an effort to minimise the production's environmental impact, only 2000 torches will be crafted, marking a significant reduction compared to the previous Olympic Games, which had five times more torches produced. The torch exhibits uniformity from all angles, with a captivating golden ring elegantly dividing its polished upper and artfully sculpted lower sections. It stands at a height of 70cm and weighs 1.5kg, showcasing the remarkable result of the designer's creativity, as he was granted freedom to explore his artistic vision unrestricted.
"For Paris 2024, and for the first time in its history, it plays on perfect symmetry, speaking to us more clearly about equality. I wanted it to be extremely pure, iconic, almost elemental. As simple as a hyphen and as fluid as a flame," adds Lehanneur.
As ritualistic as it is magical, the torch is a mythical object. – Mathieu Lehanneur
The designer states that creating the torch for the Games is a designer's ultimate dream, a rare opportunity that arises once in a lifetime, akin to an extraordinary encounter with history. Revered for its "ritualistic and magical qualities," the torch holds mythical significance. It assumes a vital role in the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Embarking on an epic journey, it will traverse thousands of kilometres, passing from one person to another, both on land and at sea.
Following two weeks of athletic events, the torch will serve as a symbol and representation of the Olympic Games celebrations, remaining intertwined with the legacy of Paris 2024 even after the Paralympic Flame has been extinguished.
(Text by Irene Joseph, intern at STIR)