This chapter presents an ethnographically based analysis of Olympic flame relay relations among the Hellenic Olympic authorities and the Greek public sphere, three American Olympic organizing committees, and the International Olympic Committee across a 20-year period. It provides the first scholarly analysis of the controversies created by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee that nearly led to violence at Ancient Olympia during the flame-lighting ceremonies for those games. The chapter explains how the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games managed to overcome this poisonous history through intensive intercultural diplomacy and to secure an Olympic flame for Atlanta. While the reasons are always complex why an Olympic bid succeeds or fails, in the contest to host the 1996 Olympic Games, the Athens bid under the distillery magnate Spyros Metaxas largely defeated itself through its own arrogance.