The Olympic torch procession for Sochi 2014 is not going too well. You know you’re in trouble when someone asks “Why does the Olympic torch keep lighting people on fire?” and your response is “It’s only happened three times.”
By the same token, Mr. Osin said, the flame had set people on fire only on three occasions, and never in a hazardous way. “It’s not dangerous,” Mr. Osin said. “It didn’t even damage the garments of the torchbearers.”
Whew. The problem is that the Russians have sent the torch on a 39,000-mile journey this time, including into space, on the principle that every Olympics has to grossly out-do the last one. (That would be London, where one town spent 15,000 pounds on bunting for the moment when the torch went by.) If a few torchbearers have to go up in flame, so be it.
The Russian space program is actually an apt metaphor for their torch procession: they may lean heavily on duct tape or load viruses in the space station computers, yet they seem to get where they’re going in the end. Same for the torch, even if it means relighting it with a cigarette lighter.
Anyway, don’t blame the torch-makers:
Russia’s torches were manufactured in Siberia at a reported cost of $6.4 million by KrasMash, which usually makes submarine-launched ballistic missiles. It is not everyone’s favorite just now, but it cannot be sent to Siberia, because it is already in Siberia.