VOLGOGRAD, January 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Volgograd turned into an Olympic capital for one day on Monday as the torch of the Sochi Olympic Games arrived in the city on the Volga River. Two hundred fifty two torch-bearers, including Itar-Tass Director General Sergei Mikhailov, have carried the Olympic flame through the city’s historical landmarks, including Volgograd’s unique underground “metro tram”; the Volga River embankment, the Mamayev Kurgan, a dominant height overlooking the city, and the Alley of Heroes.
“I am very glad to be here to support the city which has seen two tragic events recently. Naturally, all this is symbolic. I hope that none of the enemies will be able to affect the Olympic Games. The Olympics will pass well against all the odds,” Mikhailov said in a short conversation with Itar-Tass.
“I am very happy indeed! I feel wonderful! The Olympic relay race is an excellent project. It was planned wisely as a large-scale event. It is very important for the country’s unity,” Mikhailov went on to say.
Many people wanted to take a photo with the director general. So they approached him during a short stop. “I will keep the torch but you are welcome to pose for pictures with me,” Mikhailov said, smilingly.
Yekaterina Zharinova, the Volgograd figure-skating team coach, who skated at the local ice palace with a torch in her hands added flavor to the whole event.
The Volgograd lap of the Olympic flame relay race continues on the city streets and squares. Even the unexpected winter frosts of minus 20 in the morning and minus 10 in daytime could not spoil the holiday. The city center was closed to traffic but the people understood that the inconveniences were necessary.
A sixty-five thousand kilometer-long Olympic torch relay race kicked off in Moscow on October 7. The torch is supposed to travel to 2,900 cities and populated localities in Russia before it reaches Sochi where the Winter Olympic Games will open on February 7.