Over the next four months the Olympic flame will travel thousands of kilometres as it journeys across the vast expanses of Russia.
The flame, a symbol of the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus, will travel to Kaliningrad and all the way to across the Bering Strait in eyeshot of Alaska before heading back to Sochi, in an epic journey that will also see it carried into space for a visit to the International Space Station.
But just minutes after the flame was lit by Vladimir Putin in Red Square, it had been extinguished.
Former swimming champion Savarsh Karapetyan had the misfortune to see the flame splutter and die out as he completed one of 11 legs of a ceremonial loop through the Kremlin.
Television footage showed him signalling for help, with a security guard able to restart the fire with a very un-Olympic looking cigarette lighter.
‘Until we meet in Sochi,’ Putin had intoned before the flame began its 65,000km (39,000-mile) round-trip.
The flame will travel by plane, train, car and even reindeer sleigh over the next 123 days, with 14,000 torchbearers helping to ensure 90 per cent of Russian’s 142million inhabitants will be within one hour of the flame.
The Winter Olympics remains mired in controversy over Russia’s so-called gay propaganda laws, which critics say effectively outlaw any gay-rights rallies or even holding a rainbow flag.