Homeless in Vancouver: Vancouver forgot to light its Olympic flame?
Apparently the big story today is how the Calgary Flames beat Vancouver. But this isn’t a story about ice hockey; it’s a story about Olympic legacies and keeping them alive.
In contrast, the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta, which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, has lit its Olympic Cauldron. And on February 1, Lake Placid, New York, relit the Olympic Cauldron from its 1980 Winter Olympics, to celebrate both the current Olympic Games in Sochi as well as its own Olympic legacy.
Vancouver hosted the previous Winter Olympics in 2010. Its Olympic Cauldron is located downtown on the waterfront at Jack Poole Plaza, adjacent to the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Aren’t we still fired up about Olympics?
Signifigantly, the unlit cauldron has gone largely unnoticed and uncommented upon by Vancouver locals. The Province item quoted a couple of miffed tourists from California and one local who volunteered for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Embarrassment may now lead to a demand the flame be lit, but I have to say that I saw a photo of the unlit cauldron a few days ago and had nothing to complain about. But I’m a pretty self-absorbed person; I wouldn’t dare speak for the rest of the city.
The decision to light or not appears to be down to individual former host cites. There seem to be no rules—not written, at least—but it may be seem to be good international etiquette to light the legacy Olympic Cauldron during Olympic years.
In fact, a plaque on the Vancouver Olympic Cauldron declares it “will be lit to celebrate major achievements and events”. Apparently the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre gets to decide what constitutes “major”.
According to the Province item, following the 2010 Olympics, Vancouver’s cauldron was lit to mark the start of the 2011 Stanley Cup ice hockey final between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins. It has been lit during Canada Day celebrations and… it was also lit on March 20, 2013, to celebrate the opening of a new branch of the local Cactus Club establishment on top of the Convention Centre.
Top 10 reasons to light Vancouver’s Olympic flame:
- Vancouver Canucks get a new owner
- Starbucks introduces a new frappuccino beverage
- Point Grey Road bike lane open with minimal casualties
- Random lightning strikes
- Vancouver gets a new mayor
- Lululemon founder and former CEO Chip Wilson requests it
- The 48,000-strong Al-Anon convention in 2025
- Another Cactus Club opens in Vancouver
- Occasionally it just lights itself
Sochi’s not-so-eternal Olympic flame
Sochi’s Olympic organizers, for their part, had no shortage of problems with their Olympic torch relay, the longest in Olympic history at 65,000 kilometres. The torch started out from Moscow in October 2013. On October 20, 2013, the torches reached the North Pole for first time via a nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy. And on November 6, 2013, the torch was flown into space by Soyuz rocket (and brought back on the 11).
In the first six days of the relay, the flame spluttered and died at least eight times. It’s a generally understood rule that being a representation of the eternal Olympic flame, the torch should not be extinguished.
According to journalist Yulia Latynina, a journalist who followed the relay, halfway through, in November, the torch had already gone out at least 44 times on its way to Sochi on Russia’s Black Sea coast.
Russia’s Olympic relay torch was made at a Siberian factory that produces submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and it was designed to withstand Russia’s extreme weather conditions, including high winds and temperatures that can range from -40° F to 104° F.
“A torch is a lot simpler than a missile—it’s a big gas lighter,” Latynina said on Ekho Moskvy radio station.