Olympics run-up nightmare continues in Paris
Paris, April 7
A police source said organisers were forced to put the torch on a bus to protect it from the hundreds of protesters who swarmed the procession after it set off from the Eiffel Tower.
The torch had to be extinguished because of a technical problem, a police spokesman told Reuters. After a brief interruption the relay resumed with the torch alight.
A member of the French Greens party had earlier been restrained by police when trying to grab the torch from the first of 80 torch bearers, former world 400 metres hurdles champion Stephane Diagana.
Escorted by security, Diagana was wearing a badge reading “For a better world”.
Several hundred demonstrators waving banners gathered on the Trocadero esplanade, just the other side of the river Seine from the Eiffel Tower, where the relay got under way.
France has deployed more than 3,000 police officers, some on roller blades, along the 28-km Paris leg of relay, to the Charlety stadium, on the southern edge of town, where the torch was due to arrive.
“Boycott Chinese goods'' and ''Save Tibet” read some of the banners held by the demonstrators, watched by police in riot gear and prevented by barriers from getting near the course. “We are doing our best but it will take the world to put pressure on China to help bring democracy and human rights to Tibet,” said Phurbu Dolker, a 21-year-old Tibetan refugee.
Thousands of protesters waving Tibetan flags and shouting “Shame on China” tried to disrupt the torch’s run through London yesterday, the British leg of the international relay billed by Beijing as the “harmonious journey”. The flame is due to return to Beijing on August 6, two days before it will be used to light the cauldron at the Olympic opening ceremony. — Reuters