Olympic Flame Lands On Brazilian Runway - Atlas Obscura
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Olympic Flame Lands On Brazilian Runway

Before it can serve as a beacon for humanity, it has to fly in on a plane just like the rest of us.

Picturing the Olympic torch conjures up grand images: a flame held aloft by sweaty runners, moving from city to city, cheered by uproarious crowds until it reaches its final destination. This year, in the lead-up to Brazil’s summer games, 12,000 torchbearers will spend three months relaying the beacon throughout the country.

But before the flame can start its dramatic handheld journey, it has to fly coach just like anyone else. Early this morning, the flame landed in Brasilia aboard a TAM jet. Early Reuters footage shows organizing committee president Carlos Nuzman walking down the mobile stairway holding a gleaming safety lantern, with the official fire trapped safely inside.

This incarnation of the flame was originally lit in Athens in late April. It was relayed through Greece, and then traveled to Switzerland, where it made an appearance at UN Headquarters before heading to the Olympic Museum via eight-man rowing boat. Yesterday, it boarded the plane to head to Brazil.

According to Yahoo Sports, many Brazilians are more airplane-staircase-level excited about the torch relay than they are 12,000-person-relay-level excited. “The games themselves have not attracted that much attention,” Juliana Barbassa told the outlet. People are more concerned with the country’s fluctuating currency, the Zika virus, and the potential impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff spoke at the opening ceremony this morning in Maracanã. “This flame can be a guide for humanity,” she told guests and viewers, according to Around the Rings. If nothing else, it’s probably racked up crazy frequent flier miles.

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