It’s only week one of the increasingly daunting 123-day, 40,000 mile Olympic torch relay and already we have a juicy conspiracy theory on our hands. The problem is simple: the Olympic torch won’t stay lit. (Which we’ve covered here on the Slatest with a pretty great video) And that, understandably, is a cause of great concern, and considerable embarrassment, for the host country. That concern turned into a call for a criminal investigation from pro-Kremlin politicians into why the Siberian-made torches have had such a tough go of it.
“The assurances of the organizers, [who say] that it is an ordinary situation when the flame is not lit, are unconvincing,” Mikhail Starshinov, a senior member of the People’s Front movement, which is headed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “Any normal person would have several questions. Why were 16,000 torches made? How much does each torch cost? Is this price reasonable? And, finally, why do they work badly?”
The organizers of the Sochi Games have reportedly ordered 16,000 Olympic torches at the cost of $6.4 million. The torches are produced by a Siberian military factory that also manufactures parts for Russian ballistic missiles, submarines and the Proton and Zenit space rockets, according to RIA Novosti.