Front Page

UK

World

Business

Sci/Tech

Sport

Despatches

World Summary


On Air

Cantonese

Talking Point

Feedback

Low Graphics

Help

Site Map

Monday, January 19, 1998 Published at 17:51 GMT



World: Asia-Pacific

Olympic torch burnout
image: [
"I just kept praying: 'Please don't go out, please don't go out, at least not for me'"

Pre-Olympic burnout is affecting the torch being relayed across Japan to light the flame at the Nagano winter games.


[ image: An anxious moment on the route to Nagano]
An anxious moment on the route to Nagano
To the embarassment of runners and organisers alike, the flame has died out nine times so far. First, the weather was blamed, as heavy snow plagued the torch bearers who occasionally travel by ski and sleigh.


[ image: Another anxious moment on the route to Nagano]
Another anxious moment on the route to Nagano
When it happened for a second time, the runners were told they were holding the torch at the wrong angle. But still the flame kept going out and refused to relight.

The design of the torch is now held responsible for the flame fiasco and organisers of the Nagano Olympics have been making profuse apologies.


[ image: Relighting the Olympic flame]
Relighting the Olympic flame
Junichi Niitsu of the Torch Relay Committee said: "It's a great shame. I want to apologise for everyone who has carried the torch.

"We're doing everything we can to solve the problem and we hope the flame won't go out again."

The flame is being carried in three relays across Japan that will reunite at the opening ceremony on February 7.


[ image: In case of emergencies, a back-up lantern is carried all along the route]
In case of emergencies, a back-up lantern is carried all along the route
7,000 torchbearers, escort runners and support will have accompanied the torch by the time it reaches the Minami Nagano Sports Park in Nagano City.

Huge crowds have been lining the route, cheering the runners along their way, but this has just added to the pressure.

Marathon runner Hiromi Suzuki said: "I just kept praying 'Please don't go out, please don't go out, at least not for me'."

The design of the torch has now been altered, but the rogue flame is a matter of damaged national pride in Japan.

The whole country is obsessed with the success of their Olympics and with just two weeks to go, Japan is set to win the first gold medal for anxiety.






Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage


[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Internet Links

Olympic Winter Games

Olympic Winter Games Torch Pages


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.