The Olympic torch relay is one of the best-loved of all the traditions surrounding the Olympics Games, and on Sunday in Moscow a preliminary version of the event was marred by error.
In a flub that some critics may take as a symbol of Russia's perceived unfitness to host the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the torch went out for a brief moment as a torchbearer took the flame on a relay in Red Square, only to need an official to relight in with a cigarette lighter, according to AFP.
Already Russian and Olympics officials are trying to downplay the moment, but news of it quickly went viral on Russian social media outlets, especially among people who are critical of a new wave of antigay legislation from the Vladimir Putin regime.
Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 Organizing Committee chief Dmitry Chernyshenko said people should not read too much into the incident.
"I would not attach too much importance to what happened and call on people not to pay attention to it," he said.
But as Russia tries to recover from the impacts of passing bans on "gay propaganda" -- three laws that would criminalize homosexuality and "supporting" gay ideals and people -- earlier this year, moments like the torch's fleeting darkness are exacerbated as symbols of a larger issue.
The official torch relay starts Monday, and will come to close on Feb. 7, when the official Olympic cauldron in Sochi will be lit with flame carried from the original Greek fire to Russia for the event, AFP added.