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Title:Sacred Flame: 100 Years Later Still Bringing Communities Together
Author(s):Xiao, Xu
Advisor(s):Costa, Carla
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Olympic torch relay
Social Leverage
Abstract:The Olympic torch relay, as the essential bond between the ancient and the modern Olympic Games and the symbol of Olympism, serves as the prelude to the Olympic Games and conveys a message of peace, goodwill and friendship along its route. Even though the torch relay is one of the most essential rituals of the Olympic Games and the Torch Relay Department is one of the most important departments for each Olympic organizing committee, barely any scholarship on the torchbearers and their experiences has been conducted. The purpose of the study was to explore and further our understanding of the meanings and impacts of the torch bearing experience. Narratives of fifteen ordinary people who were publicly selected as 2008 Olympic torchbearers were collected and three themes, with several subthemes under each, were identified from the data: (1) Paradigm Shift: Who Are the Torchbearers? (2) Experience of a Lifetime – Relay Day; (3) Impacts and Significance of Torch Relay. Findings suggest that due to the symbolic potency of the Olympic torch relay, high level of liminality and communitas occurred, which is consistent with previous literature. The results indicate that the torchbearer experience not only brought about palpable life changes for the torchbearers themselves but also greatly impacted the people around them and inspired their communities positively. Findings imply that the type of process (i.e., focus on selecting ordinary people, process publicly and visibly held, starting more than 1 year before the Games) chosen by the torch relay sponsors may in fact have contributed significantly to spread the Olympic Spirit and increase social engagement.
Issue Date:2011-08-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Xu Xiao
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-27
Date Deposited:2011-08

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