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2012 Olympic flame controversy heats up in London

The 2012 Olympic cauldron. (Reuters)

Remember all that complaining over the inaccessibility of the Olympic flame at the Vancouver Games?

Deja vu, for London Olympic organizers.

The spectacular Olympic cauldron, comprised of 204 copper torches coming together in a representation of all the competing nations gathering, is at once a thing of beauty and a source of consternation for Londoners and tourists alike.

They can't see the thing, apparently. Not unless they have a ticket to an event. It's sequestered in Olympic Stadium, and will be moved from its place of honour at the centre of the action during the opening ceremonies, to one end of it. It will be perched inside the stadium but low down and so will be out of sight - and out of the range of photo ops for Olympic Park passersby.

[Slideshow: Lighting of the Olympic cauldron]

Designed by British artist Thomas Heatherwick, the London Olympic cauldron would certainly be a popular object of photographic desire. But unless you have an event ticket, or can borrow Queen Elizabeth's helicopter (and evade British air defences) you're out of luck, shutter bugs.

Question is: How angry will the locals get? Angry enough to force a change? Doubtful, despite recent Olympic history.

At the 2010 Games, Vancouver organizers came under (ahem) fire when the flame was placed far behind a security fence, making it difficult for people to get a good shot of the four giant incendiary pillars without a few chain links getting in the way.

Never mind that they'd taken the flame to a novel position - outside the stadium - a public shaming of the decision to locate it in a difficult to access area eventually convinced the powers that be at VANOC (The Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee) to clip out some links of chain and provide a viewing station from the roof of an adjacent one-storey building. Crisis solved.

[Related: Canada gets Opening Ceremony broadcast right]

However, holding out hope for a new position for what is almost universally being acclaimed a gorgeous work of art, seems fruitless.

Said IOC representative Mark Adams:

"We allow people to have the cauldron where they want to. We are fully supportive of that."

Adams added that those outside the stadium can still see the flame on big screens. He doesn't seem sympathetic.

Britons and future tourists will not be able to glimpse the 2012 Olympic cauldron after the games are closed. It will not be moved, en masse, to a new location for public display. Instead, each of the 204 "petals" will head to one of the competing nations as a going away present.

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