Olympic Cauldron Out Of Public View, As Coe Says It Is Not A "Tourist Attraction"
LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe was forced to defend the decision to keep the Olympic cauldron "out of sight from hundreds of thousands of Olympic Park visitors," according to Philippe Naughton of the LONDON TIMES. The cauldron traditionally "burns above the stadium, clearly visible to all." However, its positioning in the Olympic Stadium "means that it cannot be seen except by those inside the arena." The cauldron is "arguably the most photographed Olympic symbol during the games." However, Coe said, "It was not created to be a tourist attraction." Naughton notes a debate "erupted at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics when organisers fenced off the cauldron and positioned security guards, blocking it from large numbers of visitors who had flocked to the seaside city for a glimpse or a picture of the flame." The cauldron is to be "dismantled after the Games and each of the 204 copper petals will be given to its corresponding National Olympic Committee as a momento" (LONDON TIMES, 7/30). USA TODAY's Whiteside & Johnson note VANOC organizers two years ago "created two cauldrons -- one at the ceremonial arena and another in a public park, which quickly became one of the most popular attractions during the games." But Coe said, "We are different from Vancouver." He added that those who "don't have access to the London stadium ... would be able to see the flame on video screens set up in the Olympic Park" (USA TODAY, 7/30).
PUTTING OUT THE FIRE: LOCOG officials have confirmed that the flame "was extinguished to allow staff to move the cauldron to another part" of the stadium over the weekend. In London, Magnay & Furness note the "revelation that the flame had to be extinguished in order to move the cauldron will add to the controversy over the location of the flame." Critics have said that it "should have been placed where it would be seen by spectators who did not have tickets to the main stadium" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/30).