Scene earlier this week, before torch relay through San Fransisco for the 2008 Olympics which will be hosted by China. Picture courtesy: LA Times
The Olympic torch was carried today through the city of San Fransisco, amongst throngs of protesters, following incidents earlier this week in France and Great Britain, that also met with a great deal of resistance and protest.
The protests that in a few of the world’s cities have turned violent, come as an intense response to China’s recent crackdown on dissent in Tibet, its oppressive policies towards Taiwan, internal human rights abuses, as well as their support of authoritarian regimes in Sudan and Myanmar. Demonstrators supporting China and those speaking out against China, which is to host this year’s Olympic games lined the streets, as police have followed along attempting to secure the torch bearers as well as members of the Olympic committee.
San Fransisco, a city with a large Chinese American population, which is also the only city in the North America where the Olympic torch will be carried through.
Originally the route of the parade was made public, but at the last moment the route was altered to minimize the chance of any type of disturbances or violent demonstrations.
As the ceremony began, the first torchbearer took the Olympic flame from a lantern brought to the stage and held it aloft before running into a warehouse. A motorcycle escort departed, but the torchbearer was nowhere in sight.
Buses and vans later left the warehouse, but it was unclear where the Olympic flame would re-appear.
Shortly before it began, San Fransisco officials cut the original six-mile route nearly in half. The flame’s only North-American stop has drawn thousands of demonstrators gathered to praise and condemn China during the flame’s journey to Beijing.
Authorities did not offer an immediate explanation for change, but city officials had warned they might truncate the route at the last minute for security reasons.