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Winter weather appears to have extinguished Olympic flame in Beijing. But organizers say it’s just ‘fine’

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FEBRUARY 13, 2022

A general view of a fireworks display after the Olympic flame was lit during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Beijing National Stadium.

BEIJING — A rare snowstorm in Beijing on Sunday brought a distinct winter vibe to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

But it also might have extinguished the Olympic flame at the Bird’s Nest.

Photos taken by a USA TODAY photographer early Sunday afternoon show no visible flame in the Olympic cauldron at the medals plaza outside the stadium, where it was lit during the opening ceremony on Feb. 4. The flame traditionally remains lit for the entire duration of the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee referred questions about the flame to the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, which said all is well.

“Our Bird’s Nest team said the Olympic cauldron and the flame are fine,” a Beijing 2022 spokesperson wrote in an email. “Maybe it is (the) snowing which affected the visibility.”

The Olympic flame is one of the most recognizable symbols of the Games, beyond perhaps the Olympic rings. It is lit before every edition of the Olympics at a special ceremony in Olympia, Greece, using “the ancient method of the sun’s rays in the parabolic mirror,” according to an IOC document.

“The Olympic flame can only be lit in this way,” the document reads.

The flame is then transported to the host city through the ballyhooed torch relay, which can take several months and involve thousands of torch bearers.

The Beijing Games took a different approach with its relay, condensing the ceremonial process into just a few days and select locations in China. The cauldron itself is also nontraditional. While past Games have had massive cauldrons visible from a significant distance away, the Beijing Games opted for a small torch at the center of a web of snowflakes, due to a stated desire to be more eco-friendly.

The United States enters the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Beijing National Stadium.

“I have been thinking maybe we could make some reform on this to express the concept of low-carbon development in the new era,” opening ceremony director Zhang Yimou said, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Team USA forward Brendan Brisson (19) celebrates after scoring a goal against Team Canada during the second period in the men’s ice hockey preliminary round of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at National Indoor Stadium on Feb 12, 2022.

This is not the first time the Olympic cauldron has gone out. In a now well-known incident, the flame at the 1976 Montreal Games was extinguished by a surprise storm and a plumber on site attempted to re-ignite it using a cigarette lighter and pieces of newspaper. When Olympic officials learned about the incident, they quickly put out the plumber’s flame and re-lit the cauldron using a backup flame, per Olympic protocols.


Courtesy/Source: This article originally appeared on USA TODAY

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