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U.S., Japan Struggle to Ensure Smooth Olympic Torch Relay

U.S., Japan Struggle to Ensure Smooth Olympic Torch Relay

Posted April. 09, 2008 07:06,   


The world is now struggling to ensure the smooth relay of the Olympic torch.

After the relay was disrupted by protestors in London on Sunday and in Paris on Monday, other cities are hustling to prepare for possible interruptions before its arrival. The torch will be used at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics on Aug. 8.

▽ San Francisco may alter schedule

As part of the Wednesday relay, San Francisco announced it planned to cut short its route and time, and has decided it can change plans without notice even before or during the relay, according to the movements of protestors.

AP reported that the police would deploy a force of 500 upon the arrival of the Olympic flame at San Francisco airport on Tuesday and move it to a secure area before the event on Wednesday.

City officials are concerned because a third of its population is Asian Americans who could be strongly opposed to China’s crackdown in Tibet. Immediately after final plans on the torch relay was announced, the City Supervisory Commission passed a resolution condemning extreme human rights violations in China and Tibet.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the ‘Committee of 100 for Tibet’ posted the message, “Say ‘No’ to China’s bloody torch.” Beginning Tuesday 6 p.m., the group will hold a separate ‘Freedom Torch of Tibet’ event.

On Monday, three activists made a dramatic climb up the city’s landmark Golden Gate Bridge to protest against China’s recent crackdown in Tibet, waving the Tibetan flag. They were arrested, afterwards.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged President George W. Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies in Beijing, saying, “President Bush doesn’t do enough to stop the conflict in Tibet and the genocide in Darfur.”

▽ Critics: Abolish torch relay

Preparations at Japan’s Nagano Prefecture, which will receive the torch on April 26, are also in full swing. Japanese press reported that the Nagano police are now strengthening security, in the event of protests.

The police are concerned about a coordinated visit by human rights groups protesting against the bloody crackdown in Tibet or on Falun Gong believers, whom Beijing deems illegal. Japan’s right-wing groups, denouncing the Beijing Olympics, are also adding to the concerns of the police.

As the torch relay named ‘Journey of Harmony’ has been hampered in several countries, China began to strongly criticize Tibet independent forces.

According to China’s state-run media, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jang Wi said that Tibet independent forces disrupted the torch relay, which contradicts the spirit of the Olympics and violates British and French laws.

Wang Hui, director of advertisement for the Beijing Olympic Committee, denounced the protestors, saying, “A challenge to the Olympic spirit by a few will not gain support.”

Against this backdrop, European Olympic Committee Chairman Patrick Hiki said in an interview with the South China Morning Post on Tuesday, “We will discuss abolishing the overseas torch relay beginning the next Olympic games.”

“We should revise the rule so that the host country cannot take it out of its borders after it receives the torch from Greece.”

The Olympic flame will be delivered to Pyongyang via Seoul with a chartered plane on April 27.