Olympic Flame's Canadian Journey Begins

Based on ancient tradition, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch begins its cross-Canada journey today in Victoria. Within its slender, unique shape devised by Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, the Torch holds the Olympic Flame, an ancient representation of peace, friendship and brotherhood.

Canada’s first torchbearers were back-to-back Olympic gold medal speed skater Catriona Le May Doan and Victoria’s own double Olympic triathlon medallist, Simon Whitfield. In front of cheering spectators, they handed the Flame to double Olympic diving medallist Alexandre Despatie and triple Olympic rowing medallist Silken Laumann.

And in 105 days, after passing through more than 12,000 pairs of hands, travelling more than 45,000 km and gracing more than 1,000 Canadian communities, that Flame will be used to light the Olympic Cauldron. There it will remain alight above Vancouver for the duration of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

About twice as many communities are planning celebrations around the Torch as there are days in the Torch Relay. That means multiple parties held in its honour each day. The Relay, buffeted by nearly 200 community celebrations, is the ideal opportunity for spirited Olympic fans in this country to Paint the Town Red in support of Canada’s athletes.

It isn’t a program you can touch, but instead a passion you can feel. Paint the Town Red is an invitation to cheer on Canadian athletes, using the colour red to unite fans with athletes and coaches. As our sledders, skiers, boarders and skaters gear up to challenge the world’s best, every Canadian can feel part of the Canadian Olympic Team. Unleash your team spirit and show your true colours as this country transforms into an Olympic Host with all the eyes of the world on it. Because with the Olympic Torch in motion, the official countdown truly begins.

Our athletes will no doubt start to get energized and follow the Flame’s journey, particularly through the cities and towns they know, hometowns, current residence, perhaps where they went to school. Show these amazing athletes we are proud by cheering them toward victory – help Paint the Town Red during the Torch Relay.

To view the Torch Relay route, visit VANOC’s interactive map.

For suggestions on how to Paint the Town Red, download the Canadian Olympic Team’s toolkit.