At this rate, the torch for the Sochi Olympics will go nuclear by the Opening Ceremony. NYT:
But perhaps the low point in what has seemed less like an Olympic torch relay than an exercise in ineptitude and misfortune came earlier this week when one of the runners carrying the torch to the Sochi Games had a fatal heart attack while attempting to walk his allotted distance, about 218 yards.
“He returned to the gathering place and was photographed, then said he was not feeling well and was taken to the hospital, but the doctors were unable to save him,” Roman Osin, a Sochi 2014 torch relay spokesman, told reporters of the man, a 73-year-old school sports director and Greco-Roman wrestling coach. “We express our deepest condolences to his loved ones.”
Maybe a few bad experiences are par for the course in an undertaking that, like many things about the Sochi Games, is built on superlatives — meant to be bigger, better and more thrillingly ambitious than any torch relay that has come before it. At about 40,000 miles, the route is the longest in Olympic history, winding through the North Pole, beneath the water in Lake Baikal and into space. Fourteen thousand people are taking part, the most ever, and they are traveling, variously, on foot, by plane, by train, by car, by snowmobile, by icebreaker, by jet pack, by zip wire, by sleigh, by horse and by camel.
The Russian authorities, who are hoping to use the Games as a way to show off their country’s varied landscapes and superior organizational skills, naturally would like to present the situation in the most benign light.