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April 22, 2008
Torch Relay Continues - Protestors Stymied
The fact that the torch has now become the unofficial symbol of Tibet independence is probably not what the Chinese had in mind when they won the right to host the Olympic games.
But that is what the torch has become. And even in Indonesia, where protestors struggled to reach the torch through a massive cordon of police, focus is not on what the torch represents but what China is doing to Tibet and others:
The Olympic torch was paraded through a heavily guarded stadium in Jakarta on Tuesday after police stopped about 100 anti-China protesters from disrupting the latest leg of the torch's fraught journey around the world. Why even bother with the torch anymore? Any symbolism it may have had for the Olympics is long gone. They should yank the relay before someone gets hurt - an athlete, a protestor, a policeman.
Indonesian badminton star and Olympic gold medalist Taufik Hidayat lit a cauldron in front of a cheering crowd as about 2,500 policemen and 1,000 military guarded the relay, which has been a magnet for anti-China protests in Europe and the Americas following Beijing's crackdown last month on protests in Tibet.
About 80 athletes, officials, and television and film stars took part in the 7-km (4.3 mile) relay. Earlier in the day, there was a 30-minute stand-off between police and protesters outside the main gate of Bung Karno Stadium, named after Indonesia's first president, Sukarno. "I'm very proud to be part of this. I hope I can win a gold medal like four years ago" said Hidayat after lighting the cauldron.
The relay had originally been due to pass through large stretches of the bustling city, but sports officials later said the route would be restricted to the vicinity of Bung Karno Stadium.
"I want to see the parade but the police wouldn't allow me in. Olympic events should be for everybody to see and should not be exclusive," Myrna Chandra, a 21-year old student, told Reuters.
It will upset the Chinese if they stop the relay but frankly, who cares. It is their policies people are protesting. Let them address the issues as any nation would rather than hiding behind the Olympics and the athletes.