MOSCOW – The woes continue for the Sochi Olympic torch relay.
On Wednesday, the Russian tabloid website LifeNews.ru posted video that appears to show the torch lighting a runner’s sleeve on fire after flames fell onto his jacket.
The fire on his jacket was reportedly quickly extinguished. The runner, former Olympics bobsledder Pyotr Makarchuk, reportedly received a new jacket, but it is unknown whether he suffered any injures.
This would be the latest embarrassment for the torch, which organizers had said would be one of the most reliable ever. It has been anything but.
The torch has gone out on several occasions and, in one instance, the hallowed Olympic flame was re-lit by a security guard’s lighter. So much for continuing the flame lit by the sun’s rays on Mount Olympus.
The Sochi Olympic torch is currently on an ambitious relay around Russia, the longest in history. It has already run among reindeer near the Arctic Circle; plunged into the depths of the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Baikal; and will eventually scale Mount Elbrus, Europe’s tallest peak.
Earlier this month an unlit torch flew to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket and, for the first time ever, accompanied cosmonauts on a spacewalk. That same torch will reportedly be used to light the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony in February.
The Sochi games are set to be the most expensive in history, with a reported price tag of over $50 billion. President Vladimir Putin has made the games a personal priority and hopes to wow the world by highlighting the advances of post-Soviet Russia.