Rio Olympic cauldron breaks tradition

RIO DE JANEIRO — The Olympic flame shines brightly along the Olympic Boulevard in the newly revitalized area of downtown Rio de Janeiro.

Kristina Miller, 21, visiting from California, looked on admiring her fifth Olympic cauldron.

“You have to see it, it’s like the symbol of the Olympics,” she said. “It’s really cool.”

Just like Miller, thousands of others are making the trip to the area to see one of the symbols of the Games. According to the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, the 2016 Olympic cauldron is becoming “downtown Rio’s latest must-see attraction.”

Hundreds of people were seen with smartphones in hand, waiting to take a picture with the Olympic flame as a backdrop, with more coming by the minute.

Christian Legendre from Canada saw the opening ceremony on TV, but he said it does not compare to seeing something like that in person.

“The first time I saw the flame was on TV before I got here,” he said. “I liked it a lot, I’m glad to see it here live.”

Not everyone who was there getting a picture with the Olympic cauldron was from out of town. Sergio Veiga, a Rio de Janeiro resident, said he had to view it in person so he could see how it measures up to the flames he has seen on TV.

“I think, for me, until the present moment, [it is] the most beautiful one,” he said.

If tradition would have held, the Olympic cauldron would be located inside or near Maracana Stadium, where the opening ceremony took place in early August.

Miller is happy that this year organizers decided to make it easy for everyone to get into the Olympic spirit.

“I like it because it’s really accessible to the public,” she said. “I know in the stadium you have to have an Olympic ticket to go see it, so it’s really cool that the public gets to be apart of the Olympics that they didn’t get to do earlier or didn’t get to see.”

For Paul Arinze, visiting from Wisconsin, accessibility is key.

“The idea is to bring the Olympic spirit to not just the athletes, but to the people and the more you can make it accessible to the people the better,” he said.

The Olympic cauldron has a connection to the United States; it was created by Anthony Howe, an artist from the state of Washington.

The cauldron is different, in terms of size, than previous years’ Olympic cauldrons. Officials said it uses less fuel and sends a message of sustainability.