The Olympic flame in Tokyo is the first to be fueled by hydrogen.

Naomi Osaka stands near the Olympic torch after igniting it during the opening ceremony of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, July 23, 2021. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)

TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo Olympic cauldron was inspired by the sun and is built to be more eco-friendly.

Throughout the games, the flame at Tokyo’s National Stadium and another cauldron blazing along the waterfront at Tokyo Bay will be fueled in part by hydrogen, marking the first time the fuel source has been utilized to light an Olympic fire.

Since the first contemporary cauldron was ignited at the Amsterdam Games in 1928, propane has been the most common fuel, but magnesium, gunpowder, resin, and olive oil have all been used. Eight years later, for Berlin, the torch relay was inaugurated.

When hydrogen is burned, unlike propane, it does not create carbon dioxide. The Tokyo cauldron is fueled by hydrogen produced by a renewable-energy-powered facility in Fukushima Prefecture. During the torch relay, both propane and hydrogen were utilized.

The London 2012 Olympic Games organizers boasted about their intentions for a low-carbon torch, but they couldn’t get the design perfect in time. Instead, they utilized a propane-butane mixture. In 2016, Brazilian officials ordered a smaller cauldron for Rio de Janeiro to minimize the quantity of fuel required.

Oki Sato, a Canadian architect, created the Tokyo cauldron. His sun-inspired sphere opens like petals from a flower, evoking “vitality and hope,” according to the organizers.

At 11:48 p.m., tennis player Naomi Osaka ignited the torch, with performers throughout the night clutching sunflowers, which are known for blossoming toward the sun.

The first torch for these games was lighted 16 months ago at Olympia, Greece, however owing to the pandemic, the relay was put on hold for much of 2020. Until the relay was formally begun in Fukushima on March 25, 2021, officials displayed the torch across prefectures impacted by the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the region in 2011.

Before the torch arrived at the National Stadium in Tokyo’s Shinjuku City, several parts of the relay were halted owing to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

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