The Olympic torch went out in Moscow during a ceremony involving Russian President Vladimir Putin. The flame is on a four-month relay from Greece to Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held.
The flame was lit last week in Greece and was flown to Moscow early Sunday and kept burning in a cauldron on Red Square. However, a small glitch allowed the flame to flicker out during a ceremony.
Torchbearer Sharvarsh Karapetyan, 60, ran through a long passageway leading into the Kremlin, which created a wind tunnel and allowed the Olympic torch to blow out. A man standing along the route, who was likely part of the presidential security service, produced a lighter to relight the flame.
Sochi organizing committee president Dmitry Chernyshenko explained the issue on Twitter, attributing the flame’s issues to a valve on the torch, which wasn’t opened fully.
The torch relay will stay in Moscow for the next three days and hundreds of athletes, cultural figures, and other people, including Prince Albert II of Monaco, will take part in the event.
Sunday’s torchbearer, Karapetyan, was a champion swimmer for the Soviet Union and once saved 20 passengers from a trolleybus that fell into a reservoir. He used his legs to break the bus’ back window and rescue the passengers while it was in 30 feet of water.
After the events in Moscow, the Olympic torch will travel across Russia from the western exclave of Kaliningrad to the easternmost point of the country, just across the Bering Strait from Alaska. The procession will then swing back through the country to Sochi for the February 7 opening ceremonies.
The trip is 39,000 miles long and for most of it the Olympic torch will travel by plane, train, car, and even a reindeer sleigh. During those times, the flame will be encased in a lantern, making it unlikely it will go out again. However, more than 14,000 torch bearers will make over 130 stops along the way.
Let’s hope the Olympic torch doesn’t go out again on its four-month journey to Sochi.
[Image via Twitter]