Thai Leg of Olympic Torch Relay Festive, With Small Protests

The Olympic torch has completed the Bangkok leg of its journey, without significant disruption. From AP:

The nearly three-hour run, with no disruptions by demonstrators protesting China’s recent crackdown in Tibet, contrasted with the chaos that accompanied the torch’s visits to London, Paris and San Francisco.

Heavy but not heavy-handed security was deployed along the Bangkok route, with about 2,000 uniformed and plainclothes police on duty.

Security officials had little to do but direct traffic and the mostly festive crowds, except at one spot where they came between pro-Tibet demonstrators and pro-Beijing supporters who exchanged angry words.

In Japan, where the torch is headed in a few days, officials have refused to allow the Chinese security detail, known as the “men in blue,” accompany the torch. AP reports:

Japanese police formally turned down Chinese Olympics organizers’ proposal for about seven security officials to escort the torch on April 26 through the city of Nagano, site of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported Saturday.

Police will let two non-security Chinese officials run beside the torch and rekindle it if it blows out, however, Kyodo said.

Torch runners in other countries have complained that the Chinese “men in blue” tightly surrounded them and acted aggressively, shouting orders at them and snatching a Tibetan flag headband from a runner in Paris.

April 19, 2008 3:27 PM
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