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Olympic Cauldron Is Put Out, Then Relit, In London

Just when the discussion over the London Olympics' opening ceremony was finally being overshadowed by actual sporting events at the Summer Games, news emerges Monday that the Olympic cauldron was extinguished Sunday night, so it could be moved.

The 204 tulip-shaped copper pots and the pipes that feed them went dark around 9 p.m. (local time) Sunday. They were relit at 7:50 a.m. Monday. Organizers say the Olympic flame — which was brought from Greece in a 70-day procession that covered 8,000 miles — was kept alive in a lantern while the move took place.

And while seven young and fairly unknown athletes surprised many when they — and not an illustrious sports star — lit the cauldron Friday night, the job of relighting the cauldron fell to Austin Playfoot, 82, who was raised by construction workers' cherry-picker to perform the task. As Britain's Daily Mail reports, Playfoot was a torchbearer before the 1948 London Games.

"'When I ran with the Olympic Flame in Guildford I never thought I would get this close to the Cauldron," Playfoot says in The Daily Mail. "It brought me to tears when it lit up."

The cauldron now burns in the southern end of the stadium — meaning that the Olympic flame is still not available to the many visitors who lack tickets to Olympic Stadium. That unique — and, to many fans, unhappy — situation was described by Howard Berkes earlier in The Torch.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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