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International torch relays are to disappear

Latest update : 2009-03-27

The International Olympic Committee will keep torch relays for future Games inside national borders in order to avoid protests on international relays like the pro-Tibet ones during the Beijing Games. London has decided to keep the torch at home.

REUTERS - Future torch relays will avoid running the risk of attracting negative attention by taking place within the borders of host countries, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Thursday.

Following the protests and unpleasant scenes that marred the 2008 Beijing Olympics worldwide torch relay, the IOC executive board decided to close a loophole in the host city contract and ban international legs, starting with the 2016 Summer Games.

Instead of representing a symbol of hope and inspiration, the Olympic torch became a magnet for protesters as it made its way to Beijing, sparking sometimes violent protests over China's human rights record.

Organisers of both the 2012 Summer Games in London and next year's Winter Games in Vancouver had already decided not to take the torch overseas and the IOC said it would ask 2014 Winter Games host Sochi to keep the flame inside Russian borders.

"After the relay in Athens, which was the first international relay, we came to the conclusion it was easier for the torch to stay inside the country," IOC executive director Gilbert Felli told reporters.


More control

"There were difficulties with the NOCs (National Olympic Committees) and the countries and we also saw the risk with a torch relay going around the world," the Swiss added.

"Beijing had planned for an international torch relay and we accepted to do it. We saw in the debrief that the risk was there and the IOC decided not to do it (again).

"I think when the torch relay is inside the country there is more control."

The IOC executive board, which will wrap three days of meetings in Denver on Friday, also received progress reports from organisers of the next three Games (Vancouver, London and Sochi).

On the final day of the gathering, IOC president Jacques Rogge is expected to report on the status of negotiations with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) over a controversial revenue-sharing agreement.

Senior IOC officials, unhappy over the pace of talks, submitted a resolution to Rogge on Wednesday to terminate the long-standing agreement.

IOC officials argue that the USOC receives more than its fair share from global marketing contracts and U.S. broadcasting revenues and are seeking a fairer distribution of the Olympic wealth.

Date created : 2009-03-27

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