Friday's Argentine leg of the Olympic torch relay sailed smoothly through Buenos Aires, with only a handfull of water balloons dampening celebrations as pro-Tibetan activists staged peaceful demonstrations. Olivier Balch reports.
The uninterrupted relay along
The torch, touring the world ahead of the Olympic Games in
“We’re really happy to have pulled it off,” a relieved Francisco Irrarrazabal, the city’s deputy sports secretary, told Reuters as the torch relay wrapped up.
Police kept small groups of pro- and anti-China protesters apart where they gathered in front of
After the first stretch through the streets of a riverside neighborhood, torch bearers carried the flame onto a shell and rowed it down the Puerto Madero docks, which are lined with expensive restaurants and bars.
Back on land, a ring of Chinese guards dressed in blue ran in formation around each torch bearer. Police on all-terrain vehicles ringed the guards and were surrounded by a motorcycle squadron.
Beijing, which views the Olympics as an opportunity to showcase its growing influence on the world stage, has strongly condemned the torch protests, blaming Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and his followers.
“The protesters are a political group that want to destroy (
“Obviously we can’t ignore the thing people are protesting about. It’s an issue that must be addressed, but we can’t let it drown out this party which is about sports,” said tennis star Gabriela Sabatini before she was handed the torch to carry it on the last leg of the
The torch heads next to
Calls have intensified in recent days for world leaders to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in August.
Beijing Olympics organizing committee chief Liu Qi said on Friday that organizers were working to avoid more chaotic scenes in the remaining legs of the torch relay.
Date created : 2008-04-11