Pub­lic can get closer to flame but caul­dron still be­hind fence

Cape Breton Post - - NATIONAL -

VAN­COU­VER (CP) — Van­cou­ver Games of­fi­cials have opened a rooftop view­ing plat­form to give the pub­lic a great look at the Olympic caul­dron, stem­ming con­tro­versy over its lo­ca­tion be­hind a chain-link fence.

About 150 peo­ple at a time can go up to the plat­form on the roof of a one-storey build­ing be­side the water­front plaza that is home to the 2010 caul­dron.

The chain-link fence that in­fu­ri­ated those who wanted to have a look at the Games icon will re­main, but it will be moved closer to the caul­dron, al­low­ing a some­what im­proved view from the street.

Thou­sands of Olympic fans have been fil­ing past the flame, which was lit by hockey leg­end Wayne Gret­zky at the Games’ open­ing cer­e­monies and will con­tinue to burn for the du­ra­tion of the Games.

Most were sur­prised and up­set to find it orig­i­nally be­hind a fence cov­ered in blue­and-green Olympic bunt­ing.

Games CEO John Fur­long said of­fi­cials hadn’t an­tic­i­pated the de­sire of the pub­lic to see the caul­dron.

“The Olympic caul­dron is a pow­er­ful sym­bol and the de­sire to get as close to it as pos­si­ble has been re­mark­able - more than we ex­pected,” Fur­long said in a state­ment.

“ We are pleased to pro­vide en­hanced op­por­tu­ni­ties for all to see the caul­dron in its spec­tac­u­lar water­front set­ting - at its best.”

Work­ers toiled overnight to move the ex­ist­ing fence about 25 me­tres closer to the mas­sive steel and glass struc­ture that sits on a down­town water­front plaza.

At eye level in the fence, there is now a gap and early morn­ing sight­seers Wed­nes­day were al­ready stick­ing their cam­eras through for a clear shot.

The of­fi­cial said crowd con­trol pro­ce­dures had to be worked out be­fore they could al­low peo­ple up the stairs and onto the deck for the bird’s eye view of the flame.

The view­ing plat­form will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The flame has been a 24-hour at­trac­tion in down­town Van­cou­ver since Gret­zky lit the out­door caul­dron, but con­tro­versy bub­bled af­ter it was locked be­hind bars be­cause it sits in a se­cu­rity zone for the Games.

Or­ga­niz­ers said plac­ing the caul­dron next to the In­ter­na­tional Broad­cast Cen­tre did put it far closer than Olympic flames of past Games — they usu­ally burn in or atop Olympic sta­di­ums.

But the sym­bol­ism of plac­ing the flame be­hind a fence be­came a sym­bol all it­self.

Even as construction was go­ing on early Wed­nes­day, peo­ple were still an­gry that a fence was put up in the first place.

“I would love it if they took down the fence,” said Scott Crisp, who came to Van­cou­ver from Vic­to­ria. “It seems a lit­tle ob­scure there would be a fence in front of the flame.”

The In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee wasn’t im­pressed with the scene, with more than one mem­ber say­ing they didn’t like the fence and wanted Van­cou­ver or­ga­niz­ers to come up with some­thing bet­ter.

Af­ter days of meet­ings that in­volved site vis­its and a re­view of ex­ist­ing se­cu­rity plans, they ap­pear to have nixed some of their ear­lier ideas like re­plac­ing the chain-link with Plex­i­glas.

Van­cou­ver or­ga­niz­ers rec­og­nized the need for an ex­ter­nal caul­dron years ago when it be­came clear that their plans for in­door open­ing cer­e­monies — B.C. Place sta­dium is cov­ered by a bil­lowy fab­ric roof — would re­quire an out­door home for the flame.

So they set­tled on what they thought was an ex­cel­lent lo­ca­tion: a down­town water­front plaza that could per­ma­nently ac­com­mo­date the mas­sive gas-fed steel and glass struc­ture, which stands 10 me­tres high.

It was go­ing to be a legacy and the com­mit­tee takes the idea of legacy very se­ri­ously — no venue was built, no con­tract awarded, no de­ci­sion made without a con­ver­sa­tion about how it could ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity both now and in the fu­ture.

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