In a surprise move, Olympic Torch has withdrawn his services from the ceremonial relay. Apparently he found the constant stress of protests and route changes too much to take and handed in his resignation yesterday.
"I wanted to complete the trip," said Mr. Torch, "But given all the disruptions, I can’t take the pressure any more."
Forgotten in all the media coverage is the effect the recent protests have had on the relay’s most important participant: Mr. Torch. Ensuring a constant flame in the midst of angry crowds has not been easy for him.
"You think it’s easy staying lit all the time?" said Torch. "Trust me, it’s difficult to keep your flame going at the best of times what with the wind and the rain and all. But throw in a few thousand protesters and it’s next to impossible to keep burning 24/7."
In fact, on at least one occasion on his current tour, Torch had to relinquish his flame in the face of an overwhelming crowd. He was reignited shortly after but that incident clearly took its toll.
"I take pride in my job, you know," said the noted flame carrier. "I’m sure a lot of people think it’s an easy job. Light the flame, carry the flame, go back to Greece."
"But there’s a lot more to it than that," said Torch. "You have to know how to lean just right in order to get lit from the eternal flame in Athens. You have to know when to pass off the flame to a backup torch. And you have to keep the fire steady even when some flatfooted, overweight runner is carrying you through some godforsaken city in the middle of nowhere."
Letting his frustration show, Olympic Torch started shouting about abusive spectators and a general lack of respect from the public. He briefly started crying but quickly regained his composure.
"I may be quitting," he said. "But I’m still a professional. I’m not going to let a few hotheads make me turn on the waterworks and douse the flame. After all, I still have my pride."
When asked if he was stepping down to spend more time with his family, Torch became indignant.
"What the hell do you think I am," he shouted. "A politician? If I can’t do the job, it’s because it’s just too darned hard."
Rumors abound that Torch may yet make a comeback but the fire-topped beacon had little to say.
"I’ve learned in this business never to say never," said Torch. "But I doubt you’ll see me again for at least two or possibly four years. For now, I just want to go home and see my wife Flashlight and all my little matchsticks."