Will torch relay spread Olympic fever across UK?
It was the Nazis who first spotted the symbolic power of a relay carrying the sacred Olympic flame from the ruins of ancient Greece to the site of the modern Olympic Games.
The commanders of the Third Reich ruthlessly used it for propaganda purposes at the so-called Hitler Games in Berlin in 1936.
And yet, despite the darker reasons for its inception, the Olympic torch relay has developed into one of the movement's most treasured symbols, a key part of the build up to the summer and winter Games.
Organisers use it to not only create excitement in the final months before the opening of the Olympics but also to spread the message beyond the limited confines of the host city.
The Olympic Torch Relay will begin on 18 May, 2012 and end at the Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium on July 27. Photo: Getty
London's torch relay may not be as vaulting in its ambition as previous hosts Beijing who took the torch to every corner of the globe before a trek around the world's most populous nation.
But the message will be just the same.
Today - exactly one year before the flame arrives here in Britain - London 2012 have released the first details of the torch's route.
Starting in Land's End, the relay will cover about 8000 miles (12,800 km) taking in every nation and region of the UK. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) says 95% of the population will, at some stage, be within one hour of seeing the torch pass through.
Overnight stops are planned for all the major cities and towns but the Channel Islands, Orkney and Portrush in Northern Ireland also feature. There's even a plan to take the torch to Dublin, which would be its one trip outside Britain.
Until the final details of the full route are published it is difficult to be certain which areas will miss out but inevitably there will be those, as with the lottery for tickets, who will end up disappointed by London 2012's latest attempt to reach out beyond the capital city.
One of the biggest challenges for the organisers has always been to deliver a Games for the whole country when many people outside London feel they are helping to pay for something that won't really touch their lives.
Today I'm off to Liverpool - one of the stops on the torch tour - to see if people there are getting into the Olympic spirit. Earlier this year I travelled with Lord Coe as he went to Scotland and Northern Ireland trying to drum up interest in the big ticket sell off.
Judging by the 1.8m applications for 20m tickets Locog has received there does seem to be a growing excitement around these Games.
But until we know the regional breakdown of those ticket applications it's extremely difficult to judge whether this will be - as some people fear - an Olympic garden party for the wealthier residents of London and the south east.
The other grumble about the relay is likely to come from those who say there are not enough places for ordinary people to run with the torch.
Of the 8000 torch bearers, around three quarters of the places have been allocated to the relay's nine sponsors and in particular the three "presenting partners" Coca Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung.
Just 2012 places will be allocated via a nominations process launched today by Locog which will ask the public to select their "local heroes". Organisers also want the emphasis to be on runners aged between 12 and 24.
Locog say they don't make any money from the torch relay deals - after all London 2012 is looking to break even with all the money raised going towards putting on the Games.
And sponsors argue that their selection processes will be similar to Locog's with the emphasis on achievement. It won't just be a chance for fat cats and executives to pull on the tracksuit and run with the flame.
Seb Coe and David Haye attended the Olympic Torch Relay launch. Photo: Getty
For all that, most of the interest in the relay will be focused on who the final torch bearer will be. The lighting of the flame in the Olympic Stadium has become one of the iconic moments of the Games. Who can forget when Muhammad Ali appeared, shaking from the effects of Parkinson's Disease, to set the cauldron alight in Atlanta in 1996? Or the archer in Barcelona?
London knows it has a tough act to follow after Beijing's jaw dropping spectacle when former gold medal winning gymnast Li Ning was hoisted to the roof of the bird's nest to complete a lap in the air before lighting the flame.
Organisers will keep their plans under wraps until the very last minute but I would like to get the debate going now. I've heard all sorts in the last few weeks from Britain's greatest Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave to David Beckham and even Dot Cotton flicking her ash in the cauldron.
That might be a bit too leftfield even for the creatives at Locog but should Britain stick with tradition or try something different? I would be very interested to hear your thoughts.