No cheering crowd to welcome the Olympic torch

April 17th, 2008 - 10:13 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) Unlike before the 2004 Sydney Olympics, when the public stood along both sides of the 33 km route of the relay cheering the torchbearers, this time only the cheerleaders of the sponsoring companies got the privilege. As a bus carrying the Beijing Olympic flame arrived at the tree-lined Rajpath around 4 p.m. as part of a cavalcade of 22 buses, the cheerleaders dressed in red went past the Vijay Chowk cheering the uniting spirit of the Olympics.

And only half an hour later did the torch relay commence with no crowd to witness the one of the most controversial torch relays in the history of the Olympic Games.

Only a few Chinese flags could be seen fluttering at a place between the Vijay Chowk and India Gate, a distance of 2.3 km, where the relay ended.

Around 150 school children were seen cheering the Olympic torch at the end of the relay.

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Paranoid police leave nothing to chance

So paranoid were the police officials that two persons accompanying a French journalist were asked to leave the venue. The police were scared, as it was in Paris that protestors had succeeded in dousing the flame twice.

A senior official was heard commanding his men not to allow any person resembling the Tibetans to even get near the barricades.

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Tibetans find way to fool police

To fool the police officials Tibetans chose a novel way. They stitched together the flags of India and Tibet to stop the police officials from tearing down or snatching them away.

“The whole night I was at Jantar Mantar where Tibetans have been protesting. In the morning the Tibetans carrying protest torch arrived at the Jantar Mantar with these flags,” a police official posted at the Connaught Place police station told IANS.

“The messages they wanted to give was about Indo-Tibet friendship but it really made our attempts to stop them difficult,” the official added.

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Torch relay leads to traffic snarls

As the Olympic torch relay ended, the city almost came to a standstill with commuters caught in massive traffic snarls that stretched for several kilometres.

“Is torch se kaun si roshni milegi? (How will we be enlightened by this torch)?” a passer-by was heard grumbling.

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