Unsurprisingly, given recent events, there have been huge problems with the London leg of the Olympic torch relay in the UK today. Despite the Metropolitan Police launching a huge operation to try and safeguard the flame’s path The Guardian reports that there has been a string of major disruptions to the relay:
A Free Tibet protestor attempted to wrestle the Olympic flame from Blue Peter TV presenter Konnie Huq in Ladbroke Grove before being bundled to the ground by police; two others were taken away after trying to put out the torch with a fire extinguisher in Holland Park, and the relay was also temporarily stopped near Bloomsbury after three people blocked Sir Clive Woodward’s path.
Throughout the torch’s journey, several other protestors also threw themselves in front of the runners and there were also scuffles between police and protesters.
There’s still some way to go in the relay (the grand finale is scheduled for 17:30 British time at Greenwich and there’s a 7 hour time difference) and it sounds as if the whole thing has so far been absolutely chaotic. You can read Londonist’s take on it all here. Following protests at the lighting ceremony and throughout the torch’s journey in other countries, more flash-points were expected in London today but the scale of the protests and the ease with which some protestors have broken through the ranks of police seem to have taken many by surprise.
Earlier, Xinhua had reported a carnival-like atmosphere and a warm welcome from Londoners, but it seems things have soured considerably since then.
Meanwhile, the torch seems to have passed fairly peacefully through St Petersburg:
BBC — Torch criticism rejected (video)
BBC — Olympic torch arrives in London (video)
BBC — Olympic torch arrives in UK (video)
The Guardian — Protestor grabs Olympic torch as it journeys through London
Xinhua — British police arrest 25 persons attempting to disrupt Olympic torch relay