Got a light? Olympic flame goes out in 'wind tunnel' at Kremlin - and is reborn on the sly via a security officer's cigarette lighter
Build-up to the Sochi Winter Games gets off to a shaky start despite pomp of Red Square ceremony
In a show of great pomp and ceremony, Russian President Vladimir Putin lit the Olympic torch in Moscow’s Red Square yesterday ahead of its four-month relay to Sochi for the Winter Games.
Russia has followed in the traditional effort of bringing in the flame from Greece on a specially-chartered flight, transferring it to a grand cauldron and then using that to light the torch ahead of its long journey.
But when the flame was inevitably blown out, instead of going to the trouble of using a back-up also lit from the “mother flame” (as happened frequently in the build-up to London 2012), a quick-thinking security guard just jumped in to help – with his cigarette lighter.
No longer strictly-speaking carrying the Olympic flame, torch bearer and former champion swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan nonetheless soldiered on.
The hiccup occurred when Mr Karapetyan ran through a long passage leading into the Kremlin, which seemed to form a wind tunnel and extinguish the flame.
A man standing alongside the route, reported by the Associated Press to most likely be a member of Mr Putin’s security service, offered his lighter and helped bring the torch back to life.
Mr Karapetyan, 60, was a hero for the Soviet Union and is said to have once saved 20 passengers from a bus which fell into a 30ft-deep reservoir, using his legs to break a window and then pulling people to safety.
He was understandably not to be discouraged by such a small glitch yesterday, which Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Sochi organizing committee, said on Twitter was caused by an issue with a valve that had not been opened fully.
The torch relay will stay in Moscow for the next three days, with hundreds of athletes, cultural figures and others, including Prince Albert II of Monaco, set to take part.
One of the silver and red torches, unlit, will even be carried into space in November for a brief visit to the International Space Station, and this same torch will be used to light the Olympic flame at its final destination in Sochi.
Vladimir Putin has said the Games will “show the world Russia as she is and as we love her”. With the build-up already marred by fears of corruption and censorship, questions about the legitimacy of its travelling Olympic flame will be the least of Russia’s worries.
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 The Tory donor whose firm is one of Britain’s biggest tax avoiders - with HMRC's blessing
- 4 John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
Peaches Geldof cause of death: Socialite had taken fatal dose of heroin after years of addiction, inquest concludes
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned
Peaches Geldof: Her final day – and her fatal decision
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israel may have committed war crimes, says UN human rights chief
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...
£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...
£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...