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By Karolos Grohmann
LONDON (Reuters) - The Olympic flame and cauldron is not a tourist attraction, said London Games chief Sebastian Coe on Sunday, defending a decision to keep it out of sight of thousands of Olympic park visitors.
The steel and copper cauldron, lit at the opening ceremony on Friday, will not burn above the stadium as it is usually the case in other Games but will remain inside the Olympic stadium and will only be seen by ticket-holders to the events there.
The cauldron is arguably the most photographed Olympic symbol during the Games, lit at the end of a torch relay that always starts in Greece's Olympia, site of the ancient Games, and burning until the closing ceremony.
"It was not created to be a tourist attraction," said Coe when asked why visitors to the park were not given the chance to see it.
"It is partly keeping with what we did in 1948," he said, referring to the 1948 London Olympics when the flame was placed inside the stadium.
A fierce row erupted at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics when organisers fenced off the cauldron and positioned security guards, blocking it from large numbers of visitors who had flocked to the seaside city for a glimpse or a picture of the Olympic symbol.
After a backlash from Canadians, officials were forced to remove some of the protection to allow for more visitor-friendly access to the cauldron.
(Editing by Alison Williams)
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