John O'Groats residents angry over 'fake' Olympic Flame visit


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The Independent Online

The Olympic Torch is scheduled to begin its epic journey across almost every conceivable inch of the country, a little predictably, at Land’s End.

But, in what has been perceived as a snub to the people of Scotland, when it arrives in John O'Groats it will be replaced by a “fake.”

Residents of the tiny town at the country’s northernmost tip will see only a replica during a 30 minute photo opportunity that is scheduled there on day 23 of the torch’s 70 day journey.

The real thing will have already passed by to Shetland, about to travel by plane to the Western Islands.

The short photo opportunity only came to pass after John O’ Groats residents launched a petition to prevent the torch completely passing by the town.

Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson has demanded an explanation from the London 2012 Committee, known as Locog.

 “This is nothing but a sham and a publicity stunt,” Mr Gibson told the Scottish Daily Record.

“The official flame should visit John O’Groats – especially as the real thing is being set off from Land’s End.

“The counties in the far north are being totally ignored. The real torch is not visiting Caithness or Sutherland at all.

“The further away from London, the less concern there is. It is a snub to the people of Caithness.

“I hope it’s not too late for the Games’ organisers to change their mind and give us the real flame.”

Locog have insisted that replica “backup” flames are a common occurrence during the relay.

“The flame that is ­visiting John O’Groats between 5.45pm and 6.15pm is what we call a spider operation,” a spokesperson said.

“A small team will splinter away from the main convoy to highlight some of the country’s iconic sights.

“It is happening at a handful of ­locations around the country – Snowdon in Wales being another.

The torch will travel around 8,000 miles and be carried by 8,000 people during its seventy day journey. But torchbearers only carry the flame around 300 metres each, and the flame will cover most of its mileage in the back of a security van.