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‘Illegitimate’ Olympic Torch Relay Sparks Diplomatic Row

14:52 30.01.2014 (Last updated 15:26 30.01.2014)

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  © RIA Novosti. Alexander Piragis
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MOSCOW, January 30 (R-Sport) - With a week to go until the Sochi Winter Olympics, a bizarre diplomatic row erupted in Moscow and Dubai on Thursday over what has been branded an “illegitimate” torch relay.

Several hotels in the Middle Eastern emirate of Dubai, including the world-renowned Burj Khalifa, are reportedly to display a Sochi Olympic torch Thursday, which will then be sent to India before arriving in Sochi for the February 7 opening ceremony, according to Dubai-based media.

Sochi Olympic organizers insist their 65,000-kilometer torch relay across Russia is the only real relay, and poured scorn on what spokesman Roman Osin brands an “amateur show” in Dubai.

“The relay takes place in the host country for the Games,” he told R-Sport. “Any other relays are illegitimate.”

Sochi organizers will “probably” push for some form of investigation or legal proceedings, Osin said, adding it was too early to provide specifics.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has already weighed in, telling RIA Novosti that “the general consulate of Russia in Dubai is informed of the events and is working on this issue.”

The opening ceremony for the Sochi Olympics, the first Winter Games to be held in Russia, is February 7, though the first event is February 6.

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