Russia Sochi Torch Relay

Olympic flame lit atop Europe’s highest peak, Mount Elbrus – in October

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Officials have confirmed that the Olympic torch’s ascent to the top of Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in all of Europe, took place in October 2013. The announcement comes as the torch relay moves into Russia’s Kabardino-Balkaria region, where the mountain is located.

Back in October, mountain climbers Karina Mezova and Abdul-Khalim Elmezov (who serves as president of a local climbing federation) went up Elbrus’ western face with the flame in tow, kept inside a special lantern.

Sochi Olympic organizers said today in a statement that the Elbrus stage of the relay was planned separately from the main torch relay route to “ensure the best possible weather conditions for the climb.”

“Today [Saturday] is the official stage of the torch relay to Mount Elbrus, as is down in the calendar,” a spokesperson confirmed to AFP. “But the mountaineers went there in October, when the weather conditions were more favorable.”

source: AP
Sochi 2014/OlympicTorch2014.com

The Elbrus stage of the relay is the last in a series of four special stages that have also seen the torch visit the International Space Station, the North Pole, and Siberia’s Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake on Earth.

Highlights from Sochi Olympic torch relay trip around Moscow

Blake Griffin will miss Olympics, report says

Blake Griffin
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For the second straight Olympics, Blake Griffin will not be able to join Team USA due to injury, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Clippers power forward will be out several months due to his left quad injury, according to the newspaper.

Griffin was originally chosen for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team but withdrew due to a torn meniscus, opening a spot for Anthony Davis.

Davis is also expected to miss the Rio Games due to injury.

Other power forwards on the U.S. finalist list released in January are LaMarcus Aldridge, Kenneth Faried, Draymond Green and Kevin Love.

Love is the only name from that list of healthy players with Olympic experience. Faried is the only player from that list who suited up at the 2014 World Cup, starting all nine games.

At London 2012, the U.S. started NBA small forwards LeBron James and Kevin Durant at the forward spots in all eight games, with another small forward, Carmelo Anthony, bringing similar versatility off the bench.

MORE: Why Candace Parker was left off Olympic team

Rio Olympic cauldron likely to be located near Plaza Maua

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Mayor Eduardo Paes says he wants the Olympic cauldron to burn in Rio de Janeiro’s revitalized port area.

The cauldron will be lit at Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5, and will spend the night there before traveling to a permanent home.

Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio organizing committee, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the cauldron will be placed in the port area, but not in the heart of the renovated port area known as Plaza Maua.

“It will be close to Plaza Maua, but not exactly in Plaza Maua,” Andrada said. He said it was likely to be located near the Candelaria Church, which is near the plaza.

“Don’t get me into a fight with the mayor,” Andrada added.

Paes said he hoped the new plaza would be a center for outdoor entertainment during the Games, including performance stages, musical attractions, and large-screen televisions.

“It seems that the Maracana Stadium has limitations,” Paes said, adding that moving out of the Maracana “is good because it democratizes the access to the cauldron.”

The new plaza and downtown Rio are far from the heart of the Games in suburban Barra da Tijuca. It is also an area not usually visited by tourists.

The Olympic flame arrives from Greece and Switzerland on Tuesday in the capital Brasilia, to be carried off the plane by IOC member Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Rio organizing committee.

The flame then goes to the Planalto presidential palace where it is expected to be greeted by President Dilma Rousseff.

Andrada said IOC President Thomas Bach and other top IOC officials would not be at the ceremony.

Rousseff is facing impeachment charges and could be suspended from office as early as May 11, turning over authority to Vice President Michel Temer.

Temer, himself, could also face impeachment proceedings and has a scandal-tainted career.

PHOTOS: Olympic flame visits Acropolis, 1896 Olympic Stadium