The pictures of violent upheaval are still freshly imprinted in everyone's minds: the Olympic Flame, having only just arrived from Greece, sported nothing but controversy, both in London and in Paris, with probably more hullabaloo to come in other cities.
It was therefore in a hastily assembled press conference at Heathrow's Terminal 5, that other symbol of great ideals gone wrong, that the Olympic Flame in person decided that enough had been enough. Through an interpreter (a Chinese man), the Flame told the gathering of its decision to stop being carried around the world, as this would obviously entail an ever increasing risk of being snuffed. This apparently had more to do with "doctors' orders" than with any political considerations.
The Flame went on to describe in anguishing detail how it had been manhandled in Paris and extinguished three times in the process. Luckily, a vast supply of oxygen and fresh matches had always been at hand to nurture it back to life, thereby even lighting the odd cigarette of a nervous Gallic sports official, defying the recent smoking ban recently imposed in the French capital. The Olympic Flame, whilst having witnessed several extraordinary episodes in its long life (Adolf Hitler dozing off during the opening ceremony at Berlin in 1936 being one of the more memorable ones), intimated its absolute horror of the extinguishing powder that it had narrowly escaped during its walkabout in London. Indeed, the powder particles had caused the flame to turn blue at the edges with splutters of greenish protuberances.
So much for the physical discomforts. What about the psychological impact of all this momentous movements? The Flame categorically stated that it would return soonest to Mount Olympus in Greece, to follow a prolonged wellness cure. What about its long term outlook - would it return for the next Games? This was indeed a burning question, it said, but one that could not be answered immediately. More importantly perhaps, what did the Flame think about the reasons underlying the recent spate of protests?
It was then that the Chinese interpreter promptly ended the news conference and on behalf of the Flame pronounced that it was now time to move on.
He also added that before going back to Greece, the Flame would have to undergo a series of debriefings in Beijing and maybe spend some time in a "special re-education unit" somewhere in Tibet before it could be allowed back in the free world. Meanwhile rumors are circulating that several lucrative contracts have already been signed to use the Flame to ignite numerous prominent barbecues across the globe this Summer.