Olympic Torch Relay in San Francisco a Farce

Rick Moran
Thousands of protestors who turned out for the Olympic torch relay in San Francisco were disappointed yesterday when, at the last minute, officials changed the relay route entirely leaving protestors high and dry with nothing to shout at and the Olympic torch being carried through empty streets:

Spooked by protests that overwhelmed the Olympic torch relays in Paris and London earlier in the week, city officials on Wednesday opted to simply avoid the thousands who turned out to demonstrate both for and against China at the flame's only stop in North America as it makes its way to the Beijing Summer Games.

Abandoning a long-planned bay-side route lined with protesters, well-wishers and the merely curious, officials took elaborate measures to sneak the torch into a different part of the city. It emerged on another main thoroughfare, where layers of dark-uniformed police took up positions flanking honorary runners, who at times were waving to empty sidewalks.

The result was a strangely bifurcated day: an orderly, if somewhat lonely, procession unfolding in one part of the city, while the people who turned out for the spectacle went through the motions for the political causes that brought them into the streets, where they were left to themselves.
For the Chinese government, this is a huge embarrassment. The torch relay is supposed to be a triumphal procession that shines a welcoming light on the host country. The fact that authorities felt the need to sneak the torch through San Francisco will not be lost on the rest of the world - even if the Chinese people are never told about it.

Thousands of protestors who turned out for the Olympic torch relay in San Francisco were disappointed yesterday when, at the last minute, officials changed the relay route entirely leaving protestors high and dry with nothing to shout at and the Olympic torch being carried through empty streets:

Spooked by protests that overwhelmed the Olympic torch relays in Paris and London earlier in the week, city officials on Wednesday opted to simply avoid the thousands who turned out to demonstrate both for and against China at the flame's only stop in North America as it makes its way to the Beijing Summer Games.

Abandoning a long-planned bay-side route lined with protesters, well-wishers and the merely curious, officials took elaborate measures to sneak the torch into a different part of the city. It emerged on another main thoroughfare, where layers of dark-uniformed police took up positions flanking honorary runners, who at times were waving to empty sidewalks.

The result was a strangely bifurcated day: an orderly, if somewhat lonely, procession unfolding in one part of the city, while the people who turned out for the spectacle went through the motions for the political causes that brought them into the streets, where they were left to themselves.
For the Chinese government, this is a huge embarrassment. The torch relay is supposed to be a triumphal procession that shines a welcoming light on the host country. The fact that authorities felt the need to sneak the torch through San Francisco will not be lost on the rest of the world - even if the Chinese people are never told about it.