Olympic Flame Behind Bars
2010-02-15 0:00

By Stephanie Levitz | MSNSports

Set free the flame.

That's becoming the rallying cry of Vancouver Games spectators who were hoping to bask in the warmth of the Olympic cauldron but are instead being left cold by the fact they can't get anywhere near it.

The four steel pillars cradling the cauldron stand 10 metres high on a waterfront plaza adjacent to the broadcast centre. The majestic mountains of Vancouver's North Shore rise in the background.

And out front? A chain-link fence.

The spectacular, icicle-like cauldron is smack inside a security zone around a Games venue.

The fencing has turned the poignant symbol of the Olympic ideals of peace and inspiration into a zoo exhibit.

A volunteer sat on a lifeguard's chair at a corner Sunday, bellowing directions to the cauldron through a bullhorn.

Thousands obliged, shuffling slowly along the barrier, trying to peer through its steel rings or hoist their children onto their shoulders for a better look.

Organizers have removed some of the fence dressing allowing for more places to see, but fans don't want them to stop there.

On Sunday morning, one man yelled out: Mr. Premier, tear down this fence! a reference to Ronald Reagans famous 1987 speech that challenged the Soviet Union to take down the Berlin Wall. The line prompted laughter from the crowd.

Taking down the fence altogether won't be an option, said Renee Smith-Valade, vice-president of communications for the Vancouver organizing committee, but some changes are being considered.

"I strongly doubt the security perimeter will be opened, given the sensitivity of the compound that it's in for the International Broadcast Centre and the Main Media Centre," she said.

"The goal is to make it so that at least people can take a picture and enjoy it through a photograph."

The fencing was set up at the discretion of the RCMP-led Integrated Security Unit, which was in charge of determining security perimeters for the Games. It's likely the barriers would have been there with or without the cauldron on the plaza.

One officer patrolling the melee on Sunday said he thought organizers had perhaps underestimated the number of people who would try to see the flame, joking that while the fence was there for security reasons, there was no doubt it was "of-fence-ive."

A spokesperson for the ISU said the concerns raised about the visibility issue was under discussion with Olympic organizers.

"We take seriously the responsibility of preserving the security and integrity of the Olympic cauldron, which is an important symbol of the Olympics," said Corp. Caroline Letang.

Olympic cauldrons are rarely directly accessible to fans, usually burning in or atop a stadium for the duration of the Games.

"There is a security issue and a safety issue, too," said Mark Adams, a spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee, who said the issue of Vancouver's cauldron was not raised at a Sunday morning meeting with Vancouver officials.

Vancouver organizers had to build an external cauldron because the fabric roof of B.C. Place stadium couldn't withstand the heat from one lit during the opening ceremonies, and IOC protocol dictates that the flame remain lit for the entire Games.

The 2010 cauldron sits in a plaza named for Jack Poole, the chairman of the board of directors for the 2010 Olympic organizing committee, who passed away in October, the day before the flame was lit in Greece.

It will remain on the Vancouver waterfront after the Games are over.

Blue-and-green Olympic bunting fabric that had been covering the fence on Saturday was taken down Sunday, but the fence remained.

The imprisoned cauldron is still not sitting well with fans.

Viktor Davare, a native of Switzerland who now lives in the Vancouver Island community of Courtenay, brought his 14-year-old daughter Nadia to see the flame. They were underwhelmed.

Looking through a fence, its just a sad feeling, he said.

I think its terrible. Its just horrible said Nadia. Its like your own country thats hosting it and you should be able to go see the flame and be a part of it.

Her father said he had expected his daughter would be able to stand in the same foot steps of Wayne Gretzky, who lit the cauldron Friday night.

How close do you ever get a chance to do that in a special place like this, but now, he said, not finishing the sentence.

Smith-Valade told reporters that safety is a concern, and organizers don't want people to get hurt going too close to the cauldron.

Yet, at one point Sunday morning, people on the outside of the fence could see Games volunteer staff posing by the flame and even leaning against one of the four pillars that support the raised cauldron.

Look at that. So, they can do it and we cant? said Nancy Ross of nearby Richmond, B.C.

Organizers said they are exploring options that won't compromise security but will allow for a better view.

"We understand that people would like to get close and they would like to see it unobstructed so we'll look to see what we can do," said Smith-Valade.

Others in the crowd Sunday dismissed concerns of Games organizers that the fence was necessary for security reasons.

Theres security right here, police right here, said Dave Patterson of suburban North Delta, pointing at the police who were on the other side of the fence.

I dont understand why we need a 10-foot fence with concrete abutments to protect the Olympic flame, which is supposed to be about peace, harmony, global partnerships and all that great stuff.

Article from: sports.ca.msn.com
Image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Related Articles
Watching Olympics? Meanwhile NATO launches major Afghanistan offensive
Georgian luger dies during practice run on Olympic course
Terminator to carry Olympic torch
Vancouver 2010 Olympics: Preparing for a False Flag Terrorist Attack
Paper Mistakes 'Pedobear' for Olympic Mascot
Olympic Sized Terror
Olympic Surveillance Cameras Causing Concern (Video)
Are You Enjoying the Fake Olympics?

Latest News from our Front Page

Sweden to give over 8 million euros to Turkey for "refugee deal" - Europe to give three billion euros total
2015-12-01 1:44
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced on Sunday that Sweden would contribute to a joint action plan agreed by nine EU nations designed to limit the number of refugees arriving in Europe via Turkey. The deal came after the German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a surprise summit in Brussels involving the leaders of nine countries including Sweden, France and the UK. The European ...
Swedish woman raped by "refugee" refuses to report it because she feels sorry for him
2015-12-01 0:12
Victim sympathized with rapist's "difficult situation" A Swedish woman who was raped by an Iraqi “refugee” on a train initially refused to report the incident to police because she ‘felt sorry’ for her attacker. The incident occurred on a night train between Umeå and Sundsvall back in October. The Iraqi refugee was traveling back to Sweden because he was unhappy with the ...
ISIS Oil Trade Full Frontal: "Raqqa's Rockefellers," Bilal Erdogan, KRG Crude, And The Israel Connection
2015-11-30 21:56
"Effectively, we have been financially discriminated against for a long time. By early 2014, when we did not receive the budget, we decided we need to start thinking about independent oil sales” --  Ashti Hawrami, Kurdistan’s minister for natural resources In June of 2014, the SCF Altai (an oil tanker) arrived at Ashkelon port. Hours later, the first shipment of Kurdish ...
Prosecutors ban Soros Foundation as 'threat to Russian national security'
2015-11-30 21:04
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized George Soros’s Open Society Institute and another affiliated organization as undesirable groups, banning Russian citizens and organizations from participation in any of their projects. In a statement released on Monday, prosecutors said the activities of the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation were a threat to the foundations of Russia’s ...
Israeli Colonel Caught with Islamic State (IS) Pants Down
2015-11-30 21:11
This was definitely not supposed to happen. It seems that an Israeli military man with the rank of colonel was “caught with IS pants down.” By that I mean he was captured amid a gaggle of so-called IS–or Islamic State or ISIS or DAESH depending on your preference–terrorists, by soldiers of the Iraqi army. Under interrogation by the Iraqi intelligence ...
More News »