Skip to comments.France: Officials put out Olympic torch 3 times (badly traumatized Chicom torch)
Posted on 04/07/2008 7:58:27 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Officials put out Olympic torch 3 times
By JEROME PUGMIRE and ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press Writers
1 hour, 12 minutes ago
Security officials extinguished the Olympic torch three times Monday as protests against China's human rights record turned a relay through Paris into a chaotic series of stops and starts.
Despite massive security, at least two activists got within almost an arm's length of the flame before they were grabbed by police. Officers tackled many protesters and carried off some of them. A protester threw water at the torch but failed to extinguish it and was also taken away.
At the start of the relay, a man identified as a Green Party activist was grabbed by security officers as he headed for 1997 400-meter world champion Stephane Diagana, the president of France's national athletics league, who was carrying the torch from the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. The man was tackled before he got close to Diagana.
The procession continued but, soon after, a crowd of activists waving Tibetan flags interrupted it for the first time by confronting the torchbearer on a road along the Seine River. The demonstrators did not appear to get close to the torch, but its flame was put out by security officers and brought on board a bus to continue along the route.
Less than an hour later, the flame was being carried out of a Paris traffic tunnel by an athlete in a wheelchair when the procession was halted by activists who booed and chanted "Tibet." Once again, the torch was temporarily extinguished and put on a bus despite protesters' apparent failure to get close.
Some 3,000 officers were deployed on motorcycles, in jogging gear and using inline roller skates. Still, police barely stopped the second rush at the torch, and the attempt to extinguish it with water. Other demonstrators scaled the Eiffel Tower and hung a banner depicting the Olympic rings as handcuffs.
The torch was extinguished for the third time when police interrupted the procession as a precaution because they spotted a crowd of demonstrators on a bridge they were approaching.
Police said they did not immediately have a count of the number of arrests. Mireille Ferri, a Green Party official, said she was held by police for two hours because she approached the Eiffel Tower area with a fire extinguisher. In various locations throughout the city, activists angry about China's human rights record and repression Tibet carried Tibetan flags and waved signs reading "the flame of shame."
Riot police squirted tear gas to break up a sit-in protest by about 300 pro-Tibet demonstrators who blocked the torch route.
France's former sports minister, Jean-Francois Lamour, said that though the torch had been put out, the Olympic flame itself still burned in the lantern where it is kept overnight and on airplane flights.
"The torch has been extinguished but the flame is still there," he told France Info radio.
Police had hoped to prevent the chaos that marred the relay in London a day earlier. There, police had repeatedly scuffled with activists angry about China's human rights record leading up to the Beijing Olympics Aug. 8-24. One protester tried to grab the torch; another tried to snuff out the flame with what appeared to be a fire extinguisher. Thirty-seven people were arrested.
In Paris, police had drawn up an elaborate plan to try to keep the torch in a safe "bubble." Torchbearers were encircled by several hundred officers, some in riot police vehicles and on motorcycles, others on skates or on foot. Boats patrolled the Seine River that slices through the French capital, and a helicopter flew overhead.
About 80 athletes had been slated to carry the torch over the 17.4-mile route that started at the Eiffel Tower, heading down the Champs-Elysees avenue toward City Hall, then crosses over the Seine before ending at the Charlety track and field stadium.
Across town, City Hall draped its building with a banner reading, "Paris defends human rights around the world."
One torch bearer, two-time French judo gold medalist David Douillet, told RTL radio that he regretted the choice of China, "because it isn't up to snuff on freedom of expression, on total liberty, and of course, on Olympic values."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has left open the possibility of boycotting the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing depending on how the situation evolves in Tibet. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday that was still the case.
Activists have been protesting along the torch route since the flame embarked on its 85,000-mile journey from Ancient Olympia in Greece to Beijing.
The torch's round-the-world trip is the longest in Olympic history, and it is meant to shine a spotlight on China's economic and political power. Activists have seized upon it as a backdrop for their causes, angering Beijing.
Beijing organizers criticized London's protesters, saying their actions were a "disgusting" form of sabotage by Tibetan separatists.
"The act of defiance from this small group of people is not popular," said Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympic organizing committee. "It will definitely be criticized by people who love peace and adore the Olympic spirit. Their attempt is doomed to failure."
The torch relay also is expected to face demonstrations in San Francisco, New Delhi and possibly elsewhere on its 21-stop, six-continent tour before arriving in mainland China May 4.
Police and security forces surround an athlete as he carries the Olympic torch on the Champs Elysees in Paris April 7, 2008. Eighty Olympic torch relay runners cover 28 km (17 miles) from the Eiffel Tower to the Charlety stadium in the French capital. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (FRANCE)
Pro-Tibet protestors demonstrate at the Trocadero place opposite the Eiffel tower during the Beijing Olympics flame relay in Paris. Paris city hall has cancelled a ceremony to mark the passge of the Beijing Olympic torch through the French capital, the mayor said. (AFP/POOL/Bertrand Langlois)
Demonstrators shout during the Olympic Torch relay in Paris, Monday April 7, 2008. Chaotic protests against China's human rights policies forced security officials to extinguish the Olympic torch twice during a relay Monday through Paris that became a tortured procession of stops and starts. Poster reads: The Torch in Paris, Guns in Beijing. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Pro-Tibet demonstrators and members of the French rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hold banners which show handcuffs in the form of Olympic rings during the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay April 7, 2008. Protests over China's crackdown on Tibet forced organisers in Paris to put the Olympic torch on a bus on Monday to protect it from demonstrators. Eighty Olympic torch relay runners cover 28 km (17 miles) from the Eiffel Tower to the Charlety stadium in the French capital. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen (FRANCE) ++ EDITORS NOTE THAT FRENCH LAW REQUIRES THAT FACES OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE MASKED IN PUBLICATIONS WITHIN FRANCE ++
Police security run beside the bus where the torch was placed after it set off from the Eiffel Tower in Paris April 7, 2008. Protests over China's crackdown on Tibet forced organisers in Paris to put the Olympic torch on a bus on Monday to protect it from demonstrators. Eighty Olympic torch relay runners cover 28 km (17 miles) from the Eiffel Tower to the Charlety stadium in the French capital. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen (FRANCE)
Maybe it’s a sign...
Doubt these Olympics will be profitable but that OK with the Chinese. They'll just sell a few more toys to the U.S. and/or charge U.S. media a little more for the coverage. IMO nothing but a commercial extravaganza barely related to the true Olympic Spirit. Again, JMO.
French former tennis player Arnaud Di Pasquale reacts as he carries an extinguished Beijing Olympics flame in Paris. Pro-Tibet activists have disrupted the Paris relay of the Beijing Olympic torch, clashing with police and three times forcing torchbearers to extinguish the flame and take refuge on a bus.
I suppose if people were ‘really’ upset about China and human rights
they would quit buying ANYTHING from China.
Dollars, or lack thereof, speak louder than a bucket of water on some poor old (local) dude carrying some cheezy torch.
But, that’s just me.
Anyone see any ROP youths here burning things.
I didn’t either.
This Chinese official is obviously not amused about his extinguished torch.
Where has the flame gone??! ;)
Vive la France!
Stupid torch. I hate the Olympics.
Are those guys carrying the torch supposed to be athletes? They look more like military types.
3000 to guard a freakin flame going to a communist regime. PATHETIC.
Great photos - this Olympics needs to be boycotted. I’ve started by stopping my consumption of Coke - an unrepentant sponsor of the Peiping Genocide Olympics 2008.
I’ve also stopped patronizing WalMart - the biggest booster for the PLA. Yep - it hurts the pocket but this is a small sacrifice that I can do to protest against the coddling of the ChiCom tyrants and their enablers.
Thanks for the ping - tiger likes rooster
Excuze moi! If you are trying to be one of those muslum youths, shouldn't that me lit?
They are watchdogs from China.
I would encourage Bush to not attend the opening ceremonies but attend the games. The opening ceremony is for the Country and the games are for the Athletes.
” ...quit buying ANYTHING from China.”
NO WAY! Where else would I get freezeproof toothpaste?
Yeah! And it didn't help at all.
BTW - there are also funny pics from London on the net, where demonstrators used fire extinguishers. Very impressing.
I agree. There are people how have been training their entire life for this one moment and I would hate to see us pull a Jimmy Carter and take that opportunity from them. I would just skip the opening ceremonies.
Or maybe march in with a Tibetan flag. That would be funny.