CNN.com is reporting today that the Olympic Torch has been extinguished during the Paris leg of it’s around-the-world relay, as protestors lined the streets to demonstrate against the Chinese Government’s recent actions in Tibet.
According to the story, the Torch was extinguished and relit three times before along the route. The first time protestors near the River Seine forced Olympic officials to put out the flame, and then board a bus. Later, an athlete in a wheelchair was forced to douse the flame when demonstrators shouted at her along the route. The third and final incident came when officials saw the flame approaching a bridge where protestors were waiting for it’s arrival.
Back-up flames accompany the Torch on it’s ritual relay, and the word is that the relay has once again resumed and was back on schedule. Todays demonstrations follow an equally challenging leg through London yesterday. The article notes that it is difficult to know for sure how many protestors were along the route, but their numbers were in the thousands. Some of those are believed to be Chinese supporters of the Olympics however.
This latest disruption of the Torch and protests against China come as a result of the recent unrest in Tibet where the Chinese military used force to put down a series of demonstrations there. The country has been on lock down over the past several weeks, with foreign press being expelled, and no new visas being issued. Rumors persist that dozens, if not hundreds, of Tibetans have been killed in the past few weeks.
I have a feeling that the Chinese can expect to see a lot more of these protests as the Torch continues it’s run. They can take what ever measures they feel are necessary at home, but abroad, these events are going to continue to happen. In a month’s time, we’ll see a team of Chinese climbers on the summit of Everest, smiling ear to ear as they hold the Torch at the Top of the World. Those images will be beamed around the globe, but few will realize the measures that China has taken to insure that they not only reach the summit, but do so without anyone being there to protest.
Perhaps we should start a fund to convince Maxut and Vassily to make a daring, commando style climb to meet the Chinese at the summit, with a huge “Free Tibet” flag. Whose with me?
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