As the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing entered their second week, reports emerged of a controversy that symbolized a predicament threatening two of the globe’s biggest sporting events.

It had nothing to do with doping, dubious scoring, collusion or corruption. Rather, the Olympic flame — that emblem of peace and solidarity ignited quadrennially in Greece by the sun’s rays — had apparently been snuffed out.

In an echo of 2008, when a relay torch was rumored to have been extinguished during pro-Tibet protests in the buildup to the Beijing Summer Games, Chinese officials insisted the flame had in fact remained alight, and a snowstorm had merely “affected visibility.”