OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Hidden flame is a major blunder by Games organisers
TEN million watched on the roadside, usually in pouring rain, in the hope of catching a brief glimpse of the Olympic flame.
MISTAKE: The Olympic Cauldron is burning inside the Olympic Stadium - totally hidden from public view until Friday
The Olympic torch relay, which spent ten weeks criss-crossing the country, did a spectacular job of uniting the country in a celebration few thought possible.
But now the Olympic Games have started the fabled flame has suddenly disappeared from view - accessible to only a chosen few.
Walk around the main stadium in Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing and you would find fans congregating under the flame's cauldron taking photos or taking in the view.
In contrast, London's Olympic Park seems a little bare and a little less Olympic.
"Daddy where's the Olympic flame?" asked six-year old Thomas Henry.
"I had to tell him he couldn't see it because it was inside the stadium," replied father James, who was joined on a family trip to the swimming by daughter Sophie, ten.
"We watched the torch relay a couple of times and he was so excited about who was going to get to light the flame and couldn't wait to see it again today.
"It just seems a stupid decision and not very well thought out."
Organisers Locog are now coming under pressure to explain their decision to keep their cauldron inside the Olympic Stadium - not a single ticket holder will be able to see it in person for the entire first week of the Games.
Indeed only those lucky enough to have tickets to athletics sessions or the closing ceremony will ever see the flame burn in person - no more than a million people while hundreds of thousands more will visit the Park and the surrounding area.
Seb Coe and his team were in Vancouver in force where they saw the public outcry created when organisers put a 'celebration cauldron', the actual flame was lit in an indoor stadium, inside an accredited zone and behind a chain-link fence.
So their decision to keep the cauldron out of view for the first seven days of th Games - they argue images are being projected on big screens around Olympic Park - seems to lack logic.
Cauldrons have been inside stadiums before rather than raised high for all to see but not since the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
However, the International Olympic Committee claim they are comfortable with the positioning of the cauldron.
"We allow people to have cauldron where they want it," said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
"There have been precedents before. This echoes what happened in 1948. We're fully supportive of the decision they've taken."
The designer of the cauldron, Thomas Heatherwick, wanted the flame to sit at the heart of the stadium, which he believes is the temple of the Games.
But for an Olympics that considers inclusivity a key building block of its strategy, they've kept access to the flame to a very exclusive club.