With the first-ever Caribbean Games kicking off in less then a month, local organizers look to spur interest in the event through a unique pre-Games relay.

It’s a torch! It’s flaming undergarments! Nope, it’s a conch. Organizers of the Guadeloupe 2022 Caribbean Games broke away from tradition when announcing a unique pre-event relay featuring a conch shell, instead of a torch, earlier this week.

A branded Queen Conch shell was revealed as the “baton” of the 2022 Caribbean Games relay on May 27. It emerged from waters surrounding the city of Sainte-Rose to take on its role as the centerpiece of the pre-event festivities across the territory.

The unusual choice was made to reflect the uniquely Caribbean flavor of the Games according to Brian Lewis, President of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC).

He told Around the Rings, “the Conch has significant and historic importance in Caribbean culture and Guadeloupe in particular.”

“It’s a bit out of the box in respect [to] traditional approaches to baton relays,” admitted Lewis. However, he also saw its importance as a symbol of “emancipation, resistance and freedom” in the region.

“I give credit to Guadeloupe for the concept of the Conch Shell relay,” added Lewis.

The symbolism of conch was no clearer than on the day the relay began. May 27 is a date of particular note in Guadeloupe as it is celebrated as Abolition Day. The ideals of emancipation, resistance and freedom align well with the date.

Organizers were also quick to note the conch’s use in rituals and communications throughout the Caribbean. It is hoped the conch will unite Guadeloupe and the Caribbean around the new sporting event.

The Queen Conch shell will visit 32 towns and five regions across Guadeloupe before arriving at the opening ceremony on June 29. The 2022 Caribbean Games will begin on that date and conclude on July 3.