A day after one protester in London reportedly tried to snuff the Olympic torch with a fire extinguisher, protesters in Paris achieved the practical equivalent with sheer force of numbers. According to various reports, police (several of whom, for some reason, appear to have been riding around on rollerblades) canceled the final portion of the Olympic torch relay in Paris after several instances in which the torch had to be taken aboard a bus to protect it from protests. Video from the BBC (via YouTube):
And from the Guardian:
The Paris stage of the relay ran into trouble immediately after leaving the Eiffel Tower at lunchtime, even though hundreds of riot police and security officials flanked the torch bearers.
With only 200 metres of the planned 17-mile journey to the Charlety stadium on the edge of the city completed, the scale of the demonstrations meant officials had to extinguish the torch and seek shelter on board a bus.
The torch was re-lit and handed back to the French athletes carrying it through the streets, but it soon had to be extinguished again.
After this had happened for a fourth time, and with the procession hopelessly behind schedule, police decided not to go ahead with the final section of the relay.
By this time, a planned ceremony to greet the torch outside the French capital’s city hall had already been cancelled as members of the Green party hung a giant Tibetan flag from the building.
…Wang Hui, the media head for the Beijing Olympics organising committee, today condemned what she called a “few separatists” involved in the protests, insisting the relay would continue as planned.
“The smooth progress of the torch relay cannot be stopped and will definitely be a big success,” she added.
Tibetan organizations have said they plan protests at every stop on the torch’s 21-nation tour. After Paris, it moves to San Francisco, its only American stop, on Wednesday. The monthlong tour is scheduled to end in Vietnam; it is to be followed by a six-week, 46-stop tour of China.
The tour could prove jarring for Beijing. What organizers had billed as an occasion to celebrate the Olympics’ sporting ideals of peace and harmony is turning into a contest between China’s supporters and critics.