MOSCOW: The countdown has started to Russia’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi starting on February 7 and the build-up promises to be nearly as dramatic as the event itself as Russia parades the Olympic flame around the vast country and controversy rumbles over controversial Russian security measures.
The Olympic torch, but not the Olympic flame came back down to Earth on Monday after being taken up into space for a space walk. Three astronauts showed off the torch, apparently unharmed after its venture into the cosmos, after landing back in Kazakhstan on Monday.
The Olympic flame, carried on different torches to the one taken to space, meanwhile carried on its journey around Russia, visiting the far flung regions of the Far East. It was taken round the volcano-strewn land of Kamchatka partly by sleds drawn by dogs and then to the Pacific island Sakhalin where it was welcomed by shamans from the Nivkh people.
The extent of security at the Sochi Games was once again underlined when Vladimir Putin signed a decree that will subject visitors without accreditation for the Games to stringent checks.