Flame fans flummoxed by fence

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency


The Vancouver Olympic cauldron burns at Waterfront Plaza in Vancouver Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010. (CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY)

VANCOUVER -- Robert Frost said good fences make good neighbours.

But don’t tell that to the thousands of locals and tourists who come daily to the north foot of Thurlow Street to take photos of the Olympic cauldron.

Some are able to push their way to the front of the throng so they can squeeze their camera lens through the chain link fence to get a souvenir shot of the Olympic flame. Others climb it, despite numerous police officers guarding the nearby Vancouver Convention Centre.

“Our venue team is looking at what might be possible to replace the existing chain link fence with something that maintains the security and allows people to fully see it and take photos,” said VANOC vice-president of communications Renee Smith-Valade.

Smith-Valade said flame fans shouldn’t expect barrier-free access because of safety and security for the convention centre, which is the Games’ international broadcast centre.

The 10-metre high steel and glass sculpture was lit Friday night by Wayne Gretzky after the Games’ opening ceremony. It sits on Jack Poole Plaza, which was named for the founding VANOC chairman who died of cancer in Vancouver last October, hours after the torch-lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece.

The Olympic flame traditionally burns inside the Olympic stadium. The indoor cauldron at B.C. Place Stadium was extinguished an hour after the ceremony for fear that it would emit noxious fumes and burn the aging air-supported fabric roof.

One of the four columns of the indoor cauldron, part of an $8.3 million cash infusion by VANOC last May, was stuck in the false floor during the ceremony’s climax.

“Fortunately the cauldron functions with three arms, as you saw,” said executive producer David Atkins.

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