Two arrested as Olympic torch passes through Nagan

April 26th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by admin  


DPA

Nagano (Japan), April 26 (DPA) Two protesters were arrested Saturday as runners carried the Olympic torch for the Beijing games along the 18.7-km relay in the central Japanese city of Nagano. The torch was lit without any cheers or applause because members of the public were not allowed into the opening ceremony venue. A few hundred Chinese residents filled the streets across from the vacant lot next to a construction site where the flame was lit. They waved national flags and cheered “China.”

In the strong wind, the flame was blown out, but the torch was successfully lit on the second try.

The flame was brought from Australia’s capital, Canberra, and 80 runners were to carry it through Nagano, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics.

As a runner passed by the Nagano station, a few plastic bottles were thrown into the passage and police ended up raising their shields.

Two Chinese flame attendants and nearly 100 police officers are accompanying the runner throughout the town to shield him from demonstrations like those against China’s human rights record that have interrupted relays in other cities.

A man waving a Tibetan national flag was detained for trying to disturb the relay route and another was taken into police custody for allegedly throwing objects on the route.

At a major intersection near the station, large crowds of pro- Tibet and Chinese residents of Japan faced off as they screamed “Free Tibet” and “One China” waving their flags to the runner.

Along with the demonstrators, Japanese right-wing activists have also entered the city to protest against China.

One Chinese supporter said that politics and the Olympic Games are different, referring to China’s crackdown on the Tibetan people.

“The Olympics is supposed to promote peace and friendship,” the man with a Chinese national flag said.
DPA

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