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Controversy brews over Olympic cauldron position

posted 28 Jul 2012, 08:41 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 28 Jul 2012, 08:42 ]

After triumphant opening ceremony, cauldron designer Thomas Heatherwick says he wanted to hark back to 1948 Olympics by placing flame inside the stadium.

A controversy over the London Olympics cauldron was brewing on Saturday (July 28), hours after a spectacular opening ceremony, with organisers deciding to put one of the most popular features of the Games out of sight for visitors to the Olympic Park.
The cauldron, a complex structure of 204 moving steel rods and copper petal-like elements representing the nations taking

part in the Games, was ignited on Friday at the centre of the newly-built Olympic stadium during a dazzling opening bash.

Organisers, however, said on Saturday it would be moved to the side of the stadium in the coming days -- within view of the

60,000 spectators -- to allow for track and field competitions.

Its new location is a nod to the 1948 Olympics, when London last staged the Games, and the place where the cauldron stood in

the old Wembley stadium, cauldron designer Thomas Heatherwick said.

"As was mentioned before was the complete precedent of the 1948 games where the cauldron was set within the stadium, was set to one side. With the spectators, and the technology we now have, that didn't exist in 1948, it can be shared by everyone in the park with screens,"

But the decision not to place the approximately nine-metre tall structure above the stadium, means tens of thousands of Olympic Park visitors will be unable to see one of the Games most photographed attractions.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was up to the Games organisers to choose the location, as reporters asked

why only ticket-paying spectators would get to see it.

"We allow people to have their cauldron where they want to, that is a matter for the organising committee, I think you heard very eloquently today how Thomas Heatherwick who designed the cauldron gave you the idea of the intimacy and the design of it. There have been precedents before, in particular 1948. This echoes what happened in 1948 so we are fully supportive of the decision they have taken," IOC spokesman Mark Adams.

Cauldrons at past Olympics have usually been placed above the stadium and burned throughout the 16 days of competition in

view of visitors and the host city's residents.

London 2012 organisers staged a torch relay across Britain, with more than 95 percent of the population within an hour of the route, in an effort to make it as inclusive as possible.

The cauldron will be dismantled after the end of the Games with each nation receiving one of the copper pieces to take home

with them in keeping with the Olympic theme of unity.

A fierce row erupted at the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics when organisers fenced off the cauldron and positioned security

guards, blocking it from large numbers of visitors who had flocked to the seaside city for a glimpse or a picture of the Olympic symbol.

Officials were forced to remove some of the protection to allow for more visitor-friendly access to the cauldron. The Olympic flame dates back to the ancient games staged in Olympia when a fire was kept burning during competition.