Society

Olympic Flame Arrives in Russia, Promptly Goes Out

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The Sochi Winter Games met something of a speedbump this weekend when the Olympic flame burned out.

Lit a week ago in Greece, the Olympic flame arrived in Moscow on Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a reception speech at the lighting ceremony as the flame burned in a cauldron on Red Square.

"Today is a joyous and momentous day," Putin said. "The Olympic flame—the symbol of the planet's main sports event, the symbol of peace and friendship—has arrived in Russia, and in a few minutes it will be on its way around our huge country."

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Putin said the flame would “light the hearts of millions of people, and the Olympic torch, designed in the shape of a feather of the magic firebird, will bring luck and joy.”

The speech kicked off a relay across the country, during which the torch went out. When a torchbearer ran through a long tunnel to the Kremlin, a gust of wind blew it out.

The torch was promptly relit by a security guard with a lighter.

The flame is being carried on a 123-day, 40,000-mile journey throughout Russia, from the western city of Kaliningrad to the easternmost point just across the Bering Strait from Alaska. It will travel by car, plane, train and even reindeer sleigh, before kicking off the Winter Games in February at Sochi.

"Today can truly be called a historic day for us," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who headed the delegation to Greece, said upon arrival. "We – all Russians – have a right to be proud.”