Before every Olympic Games comes the Olympic Torch Relay, where athletes, celebrities and fans carry the Olympic flame across continents, ending up at the stadium. As the longest continuous sponsor, Coca-Cola looks into this year's unique Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay.
In the last few weeks, the Olympic flame has flown in a hot-air balloon, travelled down a zip-line, hang-glided and caught rides on a stand-up paddleboard, a donkey and a steam train.
In total, the torch is traveling 20,000 km by land and 16,000 km by air en route to more than 320 cities in all states and the Federal District. A group of 12,000 torchbearers representing the Brazilian people are carrying the flame along the way. It's the first domestic Olympic Torch Relay to take place entirely in South America.
These are the staggering numbers of the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay, but only a few know in detail how the epic journey comes together each day. A team of nearly 400 from the local Olympic organising committee, Coca-Cola Brazil and other sponsors man a convoy of cars and trucks and handle all logistics to keep everything moving smoothly.
Every stop along the route is different. Smaller, more remote towns stop to watch the relay, and some even mark its arrival by declaring a local holiday. The tour means a lot to these Brazilians, who want to enjoy every second, take photos, follow the torchbearers and run (they really run!) behind or beside their local heroes.
The 'kiss of the flame'
Carrying the flame is no simple feat. The selected torchbearers arrive early to a designated meeting point, where they receive a uniform and instructions for their 200-metre leg. They all leave together on a Rio 2016 bus that takes them to the exact spot where their journey begins. They take pictures and enjoy their few minutes of fame, while the next torchbearer awaits the famous "kiss of the flame" handoff.
More than 100 times a day
Sponsor trucks with music and more follow the route. Ambassadors dance, sing and prepare fans to join the party. The flame shows up minutes later, escorted by members of the National Security Force. The "kiss of the flame" handoff is repeated more than 100 times each the day. Once a torchbearer completes a leg, he or she boards a bus from the event organisation. For security reasons, the remaining fuel is drained and the Torch is cooled down.
The relay passes through more than one city a day, on average. More than 80 municipalities are classified as "dormitories", where the convoy takes a break to delight fans with music, dancing and a pyre lighting celebration. Coca-Cola Brazil has a space for interaction with the public, distributing souvenirs and drinks. Fans can take pictures with the Olympic Torch. On stage, Coca-Cola Brazil promotes a duel of DJs who interact and warm up the public for the arrival of the flame.
The beat of the Relay that went viral on the web
“Minha vida é andar por este país / pra ver se um dia descanso feliz / guardando as recordações, das terras onde passei / andando pelos sertões e dos amigos que lá deixei” or in free translation: "My life is to walk through this country / to see if one day I happily rest / keeping the memories of each land where I've been / wandering through the deserted places and the friends that I've left there'.
The official song of Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay has drawn attention to a video that became a great success on social networks, with millions of views. While Lieutenant Coronel Francisco Cantarelli, 39, led the torch in Caruaru, Pernambuco, agents from the National Forces followed him singing the music of Luiz Gonzaga, "A Vida do Viajante"("The Traveller's Life"). The chorus repeats every time the symbol of the Olympic Games is led by a member of the National Forces.
The flame and the Skafia
The Olympic flame is unique. It was lit in Greece by a Skafia, a concave mirror that converges solar rays. This ensures the purity of the flame. Once lit, it will not go out until the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
After the lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece, the flame travelled to a few Greek cities and crossed Switzerland, where it was displayed at the Olympic Museum and visited the headquarters of the United Nations. Then it landed in Brasilia, on May 3, for the start of the Relay.
The flame traveled by plane, protected by the "guardians of the flame" or those who are responsible to ensure that the symbol does not fade. There are six safety lanterns in total.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Torch is designed not to fade away, persevering through wind, rain, temperature shifts and other challenges. Yet, to be safe, two guardians run alongside the torchbearers. The fire burning lasts on average 18 minutes. If it fades, the guardians light it again with the original flame, stored in a safety lantern.
Coca-Cola Brazil in the Relay
Coca-Cola is the longest-running sponsor of the Olympic Games, dating back to 1928. This marks the brand's 11th Olympic Torch Relay. Since the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Coca-Cola has helped bring the torch to fans in 42 countries.
A dedicated team of 300 Coca-Cola Brazil employees have been preparing for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for more than two years. Nealry 90 of these team members are on the road with the torch, travelling in fleet of 19 vehicles.
During the Relay, Coca-Cola Brazil will hand out 1.3 million drinks, including specially marketed mini cans and 250-ml bottles featuring a Rio 2016 Olympic visual identity.
Find out more about the history of Coca-Cola and the Olympic Torch Relay.