LONDON – The Olympic flame was extinguished over the weekend in order to move its extravagant cauldron to a different part of the Games' main stadium.
London organizers snuffed the most famous fire in sports so the flame's cauldron could be shifted from the position it occupied in the center of the arena during the Opening Ceremony to a spot at one end of the track.
A second lighting ceremony took place on Monday morning, with Austin Playfoot -- a part of the torch relay for both the 1948 and 2012 Games -- performing the honors.
"The cauldron has been put out while we move it to another part of the stadium," said Jackie Brock-Doyle, director of communications for the London Olympics.
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Playfoot, 82, was hoisted into position with the help of a mechanical crane so he could reach the 28-foot structure. "When I ran with the Olympic flame in Guildford I never thought I would get this close to the cauldron. It brought me to tears when it lit up. It will be an incredible inspiration to the competing athletes here at the heart of the Olympic Park in the Stadium."
The decision sparked more controversy around the flame, which has brought nothing but troubled headlines for London's organizational hierarchy.
Critics had already ripped the location of the flame within the stadium -- which kept the flame from being viewed from outside the stadium. Sightings of it are restricted to paying spectators for the track-and-field events, which start at the end of the week.
"It just seems that anytime you hear something about the flame, it is never good," said fan Sarah Blight from Chelmsford, just outside London, as she watched Olympic badminton on Monday. "I suppose it doesn't affect the actual running of the thing, but it is a bit of a shame. I mean, the flame isn't supposed to go out, is it?"
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It isn't supposed to go out, but it now has on two occasions in the lead-up to and during these Games. On the third day of the torch relay around Great Britain, a technical malfunction in one of the torches caused the flame to die out, prompting an initial wave of embarrassment.
Many viewers also took issue with the decision to use seven young athletes rather than a well-known former Olympian to set the petal-like structure alight at the Opening Ceremony.
Games chief Lord Sebastian Coe defended the choice to keep the flame from public view, just as it was during the 1948 Games in London. "It is not a tourist attraction," Coe said.
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