Olympic torch relay in London amid protests

April 6th, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
London, April 6 (DPA) The London leg of the Beijing Olympics torch relay took place Sunday, with thousands lining the street and protesters on hand from the outset in the host city of the 2012 Games. Police reportedly led away three protesters after scuffles broke out as rowing legend Sir Stephen Redgrave took the torch out of Wembley Stadium.

The 50-km journey to the O2 Arena was due to pass landmarks such as Tower Bridge and Nelson’s Column.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown was set to welcome the flame for the Aug 8-24 Games at Downing Street despite calls not to do so in protest of China’s crackdown of the unrest in Tibet.

Human rights activists announced they would use the opportunity to protest against China over Tibet and other human rights issues.

The torch arrived late Saturday at Heathrow airport, with Chinese ambassador Fu Ying and British Olympics minister Tessa Jowell on hand to greet it.

Eighty athletes, celebrities and dignitaries were to carry the torch which was also travel via bicycle and bus. Apart from Redgrave, they also included Dame Kelly Holmes, who won double middle distance running gold 2004 in Athens.

Protests occurred during he lighting of the Olympic flame in ancient Olympia, Greece, on March 24, and the handover of the flame to China in Athens on March 30.

The flame arrived in Beijing on March 31 but the next day went on the international leg of the longest torch relay in Olympic history.

The flame returns to China on May 4, with controversial legs planned in Tibet and to the summit of Mt Everest.

The relay concludes on Aug 8 when the last torch bearer lights the Olympic Cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games.

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