Jack Morton/ATHOC, Athens.
The “Olympic Rings of Fire” was an iconic moment from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games opening ceremony, which was viewed live by 4.5 billion people, more than any previous Olympic Games ceremony. FCT was presented with an artistic concept and requested to deliver the centre point of the Athens 2004 Opening Ceremony. The FCT engineering team defined and adhered to an engineering and project management system to ensure the successful and timely delivery of this extremely complex project in the short time available.
The artistic vision of using fire to create the Olympic Rings symbol in the middle of an immense body of water, which would then be drained for use during the Olympic competition, posed a unique set of problems. Our engineering team devised and tested several original and ingenious burner designs, and developed unique technology to produce the final effect. Safety was a key consideration as approximately 50MW of natural gas was released in a short period of time when the Rings of Fire effect was fully ignited. Furthermore, considerable amounts of ignition and control equipment had to operate flawlessly while fully submersed in water for extended periods of time. A key aspect of ensuring complete reliability was recognising the importance of the flame ignition systems. All of the ignition systems were specifically developed or adapted for the Rings of Fire. The control system design considered many contingencies to eliminate possible failures.
FCT supervised the installation of the equipment on site in Athens and performed all commissioning of the effect. The Rings of Fire worked on the first attempted firing during the official commissioning of the project and performed perfectly on the night of the Opening Ceremony. The Rings of Fire was widely regarded as the highlight of the Athens 2004 opening ceremony, and was seen as an example of ground-breaking engineering throughout the world. Adam Wildi, Jack Morton Public Events’ Senior Technical Director, hailed the Rings of Fire as “an enduring and iconic image” and praised FCT for our “excellent service, everything you promised was delivered when and how you told us it would be.” Truly a fire to inspire.