Russian President Vladimir Putin Sets Sochi Torch In Motion Despite Flameout
Russian President Vladimir Putin "hoisted the flame" that will burn at the 2014 Sochi Olympics high in Red Square on Sunday, bringing "his personal campaign to stage Russia's first post-Soviet Olympics within sight of completion," according to Gutterman & Dyomkin of REUTERS. Declaring that "our shared dream is becoming reality," Putin signaled the start of a 123-day, 65,000km (40,000 mile) torch relay that "will take the flame to the North Pole and outer space before the Olympics begin" on Feb. 7. Protected by four small lanterns, the flame "was flown in from Greece after being lit at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics and handed over to Russia on Saturday at the marble Athens stadium that hosted the first modern Games in 1896." Deputy PM Dmitry Kozak, "gingerly carrying a lantern," stepped off the Aeroflot jet as "a military band played and an honour guard of rifle-toting soldiers in woolly Astrakhan collars stood by, chins jutting high." Kozak: "We -- all Russians -- have a right to be proud" (REUTERS, 10/6). REUTERS reported after "a six-day trek across 33 towns in Greece's mainly mountainous northern regions, the flame that was lit last Sunday by the sun's rays at the birthplace of the ancient Games in Olympia was presented" to Kozak. From its overnight perch on the ancient Acropolis, the flame "travelled through Athens' streets before being carried into the stadium, built in 330 BC, by Greek figure skating champion Panagiotis Markouzios" (REUTERS, 10/6).
FLAME GOES OUT: The AP reported the Olympic flame "briefly went out as the torch bearer ran towards the Kremlin." The glitch occurred when "the man ran through a long passageway, which apparently created a wind tunnel, extinguishing the flame." A man standing along the route "pulled out a lighter and the flame leaped back to life" (AP, 10/6). R-SPORT reported the whole ceremony "was infused with nationalist themes: Putin entered through an avenue of flags of Russia's 83 regions, each of which will be visited by the flame, and there were patriotic rap and dance performances." Among those accompanying the flame was Prince Albert II of Monaco, in the capacity of an IOC representative (R-SPORT, 10/6).