The Olympic torch relay is a time-honored tradition symbolizing the Olympic spirit, or more technically, “the positive values that Man has always associated with fire.” The torch is lit in Greece, beginning a ceremonial relay leading up to the Olympic Games. The underlying idea is: It’s supposed to stay lit. But, the next Olympics is in Sochi, Russia. And, given it’s pretty cold, and windy, in Russia, one of the not-so-positive-values that “Man has always associated with fire” is that it can go out.
That’s exactly what happened the day the torch arrived in Moscow from Greece. On Sunday, as a former Russian Olympic swimmer jogged along with the flame held high, it went dark. Looking slightly panicked, as anyone would be, he signals to an onlooker that he needs a light. Luckily, a plainclothes officer with a cigarette lighter in hand was able to casually help out.
Keeping the torch lit throughout the Russian winter seems like it’s going to be a bit of an issue. On Monday, the flame again was extinguished making the 123-day, 40,000 mile relay look more and more daunting by the minute. Officials, however, said the valve had not been turned on properly on the torch, the Washington Post reports, and that the original flame was safely guarded in lanterns.