Photographer accidentally spoils Olympic flame surprise for Opening Ceremony

The lighting of the PyeongChang Olympic flame was supposed to be a secret, but a photographer accidentally revealed it ten days early. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Opening Ceremony of any Olympics is always a big spectacle, with many parts kept secret until the actual live ceremony. The organizers for the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang have been working hard to keep those Opening Ceremony secrets, but one of them was revealed in a little oopsie on Monday.

According to the Korea Times, a photographer for Reuters named Fabrizio Bensch was at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium during a rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony, which will take place on February 9. He took a few photos of the tall, five-pronged Olympic flame structure as it was being lit during that practice session, and then transmitted them.

Only the design of the top of the sculpture, and the actual lighting itself, weren’t supposed to be revealed to anyone before the Opening Ceremony. The photos spoiled a surprise that had been in the works for years.

The whole incident was a grand accident, but the organizers of the Opening Ceremony were still understandably upset. Especially since the transmitted photos of the secret Olympic flame ceremony were then picked up by news agencies in South Korea, and the secret wasn’t a secret anymore. Reuters deleted the photos and asked all their affiliates not to use them, as they were sent in error, but it was too late.

In response to the incident, the Korea Times reported that the International Olympic Committee revoked Bensch’s coverage pass, and banned Reuters from covering the Opening Ceremony.

Of course, once something’s online it’s there forever. You can still find photos of the flame being lit during rehearsal if you look. But the Opening Ceremony is only 10 days away — if you can wait until then to find out how the Olympic flame will light up the sculpture, you definitely should.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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