sharing the Olympic spirit

Olympic torch relay arrives at final stage of route
Updated: 2008-04-08 00:12


PARIS - The Olympic torch relay arrived at Charlety Stadium Monday afternoon, the final stage of the relay route, where the remaining 30 torch bearers were finishing the jogging process.

Two flame guards show the lantern which holds the Olympic flame at the airport in Paris, capital of France, April 6, 2008. Paris is the fifth stop of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay outside the Chinese mainland.  [Xinhua]  

The relay was affected by disruptions by Tibetan separatists and their supporters which aroused indignation from spectators and sports officials.

The torch was put on an accompanying bus for four times in the afternoon for precautions against the protestors, a Xinhua photographer reported. The journey was cut short and brought to the final place by bus.

Earlier, a protestor tried to use a fire extinguisher to put out the Olympic torch, but was stopped by police, and another one failed in his attempt to snatch the torch from a torchbearer.

Around 3,000 French policemen have been deployed along the 28 km-journey of the Olympic flame in Paris, which started shortly after midday and was originally scheduled to conclude at 5 pm (1500 GMT) at Stade Charlety in the south of Paris.

The ongoing Olympic torch relay in Paris was at least one hour behind schedule on Monday due to disruptions by protesters who supported Tibetan separatism.

Earlier, a member from the French Greens Party attempted to snatch the torch from former world 400 meters hurdles champion Stephane Diagana, the first torchbearer, but was stopped by policemen.

French TV footage showed that police had clashed with protesters several times. At least five protesters were detained for blocking the Beijing Olympic torch relay in the French capital, the AFP news agency reported.

Henri Serandour, head of the French Olympic Committee on Monday criticized the protests as "highly regrettable."

"I think that people should have let this flame through, that they could have held their protests to one side," he said.

"Everyone has a right to express themselves but to stop it passing shows a lack of respect for the basic freedom of our athletes to carry this flame, which is a message of peace to the whole world," the chief said.

Another member of the French Olympic Committee said here Monday that the Olympic torch relay should not be affected in any way.

"The Olympic sacred fire is a symbol of peace, tolerance... and should not be affected by anybody in any way," Guy Drut told France 3 television.

Spectators of the Beijing Olympic torch relay were greatly annoyed and angered by Tibetan separatists and their supporters attempting to disrupt the Monday event in Paris, the fifth leg of the flame's global tour.

"We've come here only to watch the torch relay," said a Paris student, who only gave his first name as Mark.

"What in the world does this have anything to do with us except for annoying us?" he added, pointing to Tibetan separatist demonstrators.

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