Welcoming the Olympic Flame

October 14th was the day for the Tula’s region to welcome the Olympic torch relay.  The Olympic flame traveled to Yasnaya Poliana and Novomoskovsk first, finally coming to Tula.  The relay’s route in Tula itself has been divided into three separated stages following each other in three city’s districts, a wise move by the organizers, actually.  People who went to see the relay for the 1980s Olympics remembered huge crowds gathering around Tula’s central street, the Prospekt Lenina, the only route for the relay back then.  This time the route for the Olympic flame was winding through multiple streets in each of the three areas thus giving those who wanted to see it an opportunity to do so without being smashed in the process.

The day of the relay was made into an “unofficial holiday”, giving employers the right to decide for themselves whether to work or not.  So like with any other holiday state and municipal organizations like schools have been closed for the day, with stores remaining open.

Private transport has been suspended along the relay’s route (with certain intersecting streets open for the convenience of the drivers), public transportation running on the regular schedule with, what looked like, more buses, trolleybuses and cabs.  The morning, which happened to be very sunny and warm, was strangely, unusually quite.  People walked and used bicycles; it all felt like a state holiday from my childhood.

morning 3

morning 2

Banners advertising the Olympic Relay could be seen everywhere.

banner 2

banner 1

banner 3

The streets were cleaned every hour, at least.

cleaner

Alcohol sales have been halted for the whole day. It was interesting to see notices posted on doors of two different supermarkets. The notices say that the order came from the region’s administration.

note 1

note 2
The forcible nature of this preventive measure makes me both unhappy and somewhat ashamed: do we have to ban alcohol in order to keep the people from trouble?  But with many grocery stores along the torch’s route and people congregating on the city’s central plaza for the concert and fireworks later in the evening I can see the logic behind the administration’s decision.  I mean, alcohol is banned from the Times Square New Year’s celebration, too.

The timing of the Relay has been posted in newspapers and on the web, the updates from the Relay's progress through the city could be seen on TV and, off course, on twitter.  So our wait for the Olympic Flame was a pleasant one.

The Relay is headed by traffic police cars.
relay 1

 Cars with official designs for the Sochi Olympics.

cars

Buses of Ingosstrakh Insurance Company and…

ingosstrakh bus

 … Coca Cola , both official partners of Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

coca cola bus

Finally, the bus carrying the Relay's participants.

bus

Here comes a torchbearer.  The only thing that I would want to add to this otherwise very well organized event is the announcement of torchbearers names and merits.  One could read about them in papers but it would be nice for both, the torchbearer and the public, I think, to hear it during the relay itself.

security

torch 1

torch 2

Here is the change of torchbearers.

light change

Well, one could say that it was a very good day — no traffic, no work, cleaned streets, no alcohol!  But seriously speaking, I liked this day not only for the calmness of streets (which, I am sure would feel strange if lasted longer) or the nice weather.  I was happy to see that it was well organized and that if you wanted to see the relay you could easily do so and be proud for your country and for your city. 

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