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SBD Global/November 6, 2013/Olympics

Russia Struggles To Keep Torch Burning During Sochi Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic torch has been to the North Pole and traveled thousands of kilometers "on the relay that will end at the Sochi Winter Games in Russia in February," according to Ian Bateson of REUTERS. The problem is "the flame keeps going out." The longest torch relay in Olympic history "has been interrupted repeatedly since Putin launched it by hoisting the torch high outside the Kremlin" on Oct. 6. Yulia Latynina, a journalist who has been following the planned 65,000km (40,000-mile) relay, said that the torch -- made at a Siberian factory that produces submarine-launched ballistic missiles -- "has already gone out at least 44 times on its way to Sochi on Russia's Black Sea coast." Latynina said, "A torch is a lot simpler than a missile -- it's a big gas lighter. Question: Do our missiles fly the way our torches burn?" Asked for comment, torch relay spokesperson Roman Osin said that "the number of times the torch had failed was within the normal range of error and that there had been similar incidents during the relays before the London and Beijing Olympics." The torches "were designed to withstand Russia's extreme weather conditions, including high winds and temperatures that can range from -40 C (-40 F) to 40 C (104 F)." It is no laughing matter for Putin, "who has staked a lot on a successful Games, but the torch has become the butt of jokes in Russia." On a roadside in Kolomna, a city outside Moscow, "residents greeted the torch by holding up lighters or striking matches" (REUTERS, 11/5).
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