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Sport
Kit Bag

Russian Olympic torches fail to fire

The National staff   |  October 10, 2013

Boxer Kostya Tszyu, left, and singer Dima Bilan with Olympic torches in Moscow. Dmitry Lovetsky / AP Photo
Dmitry Lovetsky STF
Boxer Kostya Tszyu, left, and singer Dima Bilan with Olympic torches in Moscow. Dmitry Lovetsky / AP Photo

MOSCOW // Russian authorities are struggling for an explanation after Olympic torches, produced by a missile maker and used in the relay for the Sochi Winter Games, went out four times.

The flame was extinguished twice on Monday – the first day of the relay – and twice on Wednesday, according to reports.

One of the relay participants, finswimmer world-record holder Shavarsh Karapetyan, whose torch went out Monday and was reportedly relit by a secret service officer, was given the opportunity to run in the relay for a second time, according to the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti.

“We have people responsible for this,” Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko told ITAR-TASS news agency when asked to comment about the problem. “I think that experts will sort it out.”

The pro-Vladimir Putin campaign coalition All-Russian People’s Front urged investigators to determine if 207 million roubles (Dh23.4m) spent on the torches had been misspent.

Mikhail Starshinov, a pro-Putin deputy, said: “Any normal person has a few questions: why were there 16,000 torches made? How much does each one cost? Is the price adequate? Finally, why don’t they work?”

A spokesman for KRASMASH, a manufacturer in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk that produced the torches confirmed that 16,000 torches were made, but due to a contractual obligation was unable to elaborate further on the cost.

The factory is known as the maker of ballistic missiles for Russian submarines as well as parts for the Proton rocket used in the country’s space programme.