BY MICAHEL PAVITT.
Former Formula One group chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has donated the original Torch used by Muhammad Ali to light the Olympic Cauldron at Atlanta 1996 to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Ecclestone donated the torch to the IOC at a meeting in Lausanne with the organisation’s President Thomas Bach.
“Personally, it was a great honour finding this unique Torch, and there is no better place for it to be than at the IOC,” said Ecclestone.
Ali is widely regarded as one of the greatest sportsmen of all-time.
The three-time world heavyweight boxing champion, who died aged 74 in 2016, had a strong affinity with the Olympic Games.
He claimed the Olympic medal gold in the lightweight division at Rome 1960.
Ali suffered from Parkinson’s disease since 1984, three years after his retirement from boxing.
He continued to make public appearances, despite his illness, and lit the Olympic Cauldron at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Bach described Ali lighting the Atlanta 1996 Cauldron as “very touching moments”, after receiving the torch from Ecclestone.
“I think everybody in the Olympic Movement still has this image of Muhammad Ali, when he was already suffering from the beginning of his Parkinson’s disease, standing there in those very touching moments, proudly holding the Olympic Torch and then lighting the flame,” Bach said.
“To have this unique torch at the IOC is something very special.
“I would like to thank Mr Ecclestone from the bottom of my heart.”