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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Olympic Flame Fails To Light Mayor's Fire

The ceremonial return of the Olympic flame to Moscow had only one hitch on Friday -- there was no one to meet it on its arrival downtown.


In a celebration of the centennial anniversary of the modern Games, the flame was sent from Athens, Greece, to the capital cities of the 21 countries that have hosted the Olympics in the past century.


The bronze lantern carrying the flame to Moscow -- site of the 1980 Summer Games -- arrived at Sheremetyevo-2 airport without incident early in the afternoon on an Aeroflot charter, having been lit April 6 in Olympia, Greece, 100 years to the day after the opening of the first modern Olympiad.


The problem arose when the final bearer of the flame, Pyotr Bolotnikov, the 1960 gold-medal winner in the 10,000-meter run, was heading toward a podium erected in front of the Mayoral Building at Tverskaya 13 for the re-lighting of the 1980 Olympic cauldron.


Unbeknownst to Bolotnikov, Mayor Yury Luzhkov had not yet arrived to officially receive the torch.


Boris Fadeyev burst into the cleared street waving his arms in front of the runner.


"Petya, Petya, slow down," warned Fadeyev, general director of the company that organized the celebration. "Run in place for a while, just don't go forward."


"Like this?" asked the stunned Rome Olympian.


"Sure sure. Just don't go anywhere yet," said Fadeyev, head of Moscow's International Peace Marathon.


After a short delay, while the Olympian jogged on the spot in a light drizzle, Luzhkov arrived and made a brief speech, following which the cauldron was finally lit.


The flame will stand under the monument to Moscow founder Yury Dolgoruky until City Day on Sept. 8.


The flame had been met at the airport by Ilgar Mamedov, the Soviet Union's fencing champion from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, who sped with it to the CSKA sports complex on Leningradsky Prospekt in a GAI car.


There he was greeted by another Olympian, 1988 cross-country skiing champion Mikhail Devetyarov, and the flame was transferred to the torch, which was carried in relay to the city center beginning about 5:30 p.m.


About 100 curious onlookers, drawn by a spirited display of gymnastics, karate and fencing from Central Army Club athletes, cheered wildly as Devetyarov lit the Olympics torch from the lantern solemnly presented to him by Mamedov.


Trailing 11 motorcyclists, flanked on both sides by members of the CSKA running club and trailed by a white van with a spare Olympic flame just in case the rain picked up, Devetyarov went jogging down Leningradsky Prospect.