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Travails of the torch: The story so far

May 5, 2008

The Times of India
2 May 2008

Key incidents during the progress of the Olympic torch around the world,
and the stages to come:

March 24-30, Greece: Protests over events in Chinese-ruled Tibet, where
unrest broke out on March 10 -- disrupt the lighting ceremony as the
torch leaves its birthplace at Olympia, en route for the Games venue in
Beijing. The final stage of the Greek relay, in Athens, is cut short due
to more protests.

April 5, Russia: Amid heavy security, the Olympic flame makes a brief
stop in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, but there are few calls
for protests, and a lone demonstrator is quickly pounced on by police.

April 6, Britain: The first major disruption occurs as the flame passes
through London. Police arrest 37 of the many protesters who try to grab
the torch from the hands of its bearers.

April 7, France: Large crowds of pro-Tibetan demonstrators disrupt the
torch's progress through Paris, which is cut short amid confusion. The
flame is reportedly extinguished several times, by organisers.

April 9, United States: In San Francisco, the only stop in the US, the
authorities change the route at the last minute, and protesters are kept
at bay by baton-wielding police. There is no major trouble.
The next day the president of the International Olympic Committee,
Jacques Rogge, denies suggestions that the relay could be cut short.

April 11, Argentina: In Buenos Aires, its only stop in Latin America,
the torch meets few problems, with more than 2,500 security personnel on
hand.

April 13, Tanzania: There are no incidents during the torch's only stop
in Africa, a scaled-down itinerary through the Tanzanian capital Dar es
Salaam.

April 14, Oman: The torch is paraded through the streets of the capital
Muscat for three-and-a-half hours without incident.

April 16, Pakistan: Thousands of troops and police are deployed to guard
the torch ceremony at a sports stadium in Islamabad after organisers
slashed the planned route to ward off pro-Tibet demonstrations and the
threat of militant attacks.

April 17, India: The scaled-back torch relay begins in New Delhi amid
tight security, with thousands of police and soldiers mobilised. At
least 170 Tibetan activists are arrested near the relay route.

April 19, Thailand: The torch is paraded through Bangkok amid heavy
security, as China supporters taunted pro-Tibet demonstrators. A police
helicopter hovered overhead as the torch and runners complete their
10.5-km relay in the city's China Town.

April 21, Malaysia: Malaysia's leg of the Olympic torch relay passed off
largely without incident. The torch completed its 16.5 kilometer journey
under tight security with Malaysia's ninth king Sultan Azlan Shah
carrying it to the Petronas Twin Towers.

April 22, Indonesia: The torch was paraded behind closed doors at an
invitation-only event in Jakarta held under blanket security, where it
spluttered out before having to be re-lit. Torchbearers included Tourism
Minister Jero Wacik, Chinese Ambassador Lan Linjun, Sports and Youth
Minister Adhyaksa Dault and badminton world champion Taufik Hidayat.

April 24, Australia: Runners carried the Olympic torch unimpeded through
crowd-lined streets in Australia's capital. There were pockets of
protest nearby by critics of China's government during the run, and
several people were detained. Thousands lined the Canberra relay route
as police manned crowd-control barriers and vowed that nothing would
stop the torch from completing its three-hour journey. Five-time gold
medal winner Ian Thorpe completed the relay by lighting a ceremonial
cauldron.

April 26, Japan: Protesters hurled rubbish and flares at the Beijing
Olympic torch and brawled with Chinese supporters during the chaotic
Japanese leg of the troubled relay. At least four people were injured in
the scuffles in the mountain resort of Nagano, where more than 85,000
people packed the streets. The torch was paraded through the streets
with more than 3,000 police guarding the route.

April 27, Seoul, South Korea: Thousands of Chinese filled Seoul's
streets with red flags to show their support for this summer's Olympic
Games in Beijing during the torch relay, while in the Olympic Village,
members of refugee and human rights groups protested China's treatment
of North Korean refugees and its policies on Tibet.

April 28, North Korea: The Olympic torch made its first-ever relay run
in authoritarian North Korea. The event, which was presided over by the
head of the country's rubber-stamp parliament, Kim Yong Nam, went off
peacefully with thousands watching.

April 29, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: The Olympic torch ended the Vietnam
leg of its troubled worldwide relay, cheered by thousands of onlookers.
The last of 60 runners completed the Ho Chi Minh City run at an indoor
sports centre near the city's airport called the Military Zone 7
Competition Hall.

May 2, Hong Kong: The Olympic torch made a trouble-free journey on
Friday through the streets of Hong Kong, kicking off the final Chinese
leg of a worldwide journey marred by angry protests over Tibet and
democracy. The relay came to a close at Hong Kong's Golden Bauhinia Square.

May 3, Macau: Runners finished carrying the Olympic torch through the
Chinese city of Macau without any disruptions. The torch was guarded by
two columns of paramilitary police in blue shorts who jogged on each
side of the torch bearers. Spectators constantly chanted, ‘Go China’ in
place of the game's slogan - ‘One World, One Dream’- through the run.

Stages to come

May 3-August 7: The flame crosses China. It is due to visit Tibet from
June 19-21.

August 8 - The 2008 Summer Games open in Beijing.
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