France manufactures slender Paris 2024 Olympic torch from raw steel

Olympic torches
A visitor looks at the exhibits from the collection of Stratos Klimou during a temporary exhibition of historic Olympic torches in Ancient Olympia, Greece, on April 16, 2024. File photo: Reuters/Louisa Gouliamaki

Vire (France): It takes only four cars from the scrapyard - or the steel from about 50 washing machines - to make the 2,000 torches needed for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but the process requires a specific savoir faire.

Six tons of steel were melted by manufacturing corporation ArcelorMittal, a Paris 2024 official partner, before being shaped into 0.7-millimetre plates that were shipped to the Normandy factory of French silverware and cutlery company Guy Degrenne.

There, it is laser-cut, welded and assembled by a couple of dozen workers who delivered the torches at the end of January, marking the end of a nine-month process.

"It's a bit like my baby, our baby," Delphine Moulin, Paris 2024 director of celebration, said amid the sounds of metal being cut, bent, polished and sprayed with micro-particles of steel.

The result is a slender-looking torch, with a wavy touch which represents the Mediterranean Sea and oceans that carried the Olympic flame from Greece and will take it to the French overseas territories.

"We wanted it to be unique. You can see that it's different from the usually flared shape of the Olympic torch," Moulin added.

The torch, which is 70 centimetres high and weighs 1.5 kilos, is water and windproof as it is designed so the flame can withstand a sustained wind of 20kph and gusts at 60kph.

"It also went through a crash test, resisting a three-metre fall," said ArcelorMittal's Franck Wasilewski, the project manager.

"It requires so much attention to details, first to make the perfect steel. You don't use the same kind of steel to make rails and to make this torch," ArcelorMittal France president Eric Niedziela said.

"It is also our pride to have this French product made with our partners (Guy Degrenne), their savoir faire is unique."

Some 1,500 torches will be used for the Olympic relay, with the other 500 going to the Paralympics' relay.

There will be 11,000 torch-bearers to bring the flame to its final destination in Paris, meaning the same torch will be carried by almost 10 different people.

"This is a sustainable option," Moulin said.

Paris 2024 officials and ArcelorMittal have been tight-lipped on the budget of the torches' fabrication, declining to give an estimate of the overall cost.

The Games will be held from July 26-August 11 and the Paralympics run from August 28-September 8.

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