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The torch relay has been marred by repeated cases of the flame flickering out. The first such incident occurred at the very start of the relay near the Kremlin. A security guard quickly took out his lighter and reignited the torch. Dozens of other such cases followed, drawing mockery and sardonic observations from some commentators.
On at least two occasions, in the Siberia city of Abakan in November and in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg in December, torchbearers’ clothes caught fire but were quickly extinguished without injury. Some blamed the poor design of the torch, which was developed by a factory that manufactures ballistic missiles, drawing jokes about the reliability of the company’s main product.
A wrestling coach, 73-year-old Vadim Gorbenko, died of a heart attack Dec. 15, a few hours after carrying the Olympic flame in the city of Kurgan.
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