UPDATE, 20:21: The flame has just been extinguished for a second time amid protests in Paris. Following an earlier disturbance along the banks of the Seine, the flame had been extinguished by officials and put aboard a bus to avoid further protests. The torch was then re-lit and the relay restarted but the procession was again halted and officials once again extinguished the flame and boarded a bus. More to follow shortly…
UPDATE, 19:17: You just knew there was going to be trouble. Reports are coming in from Paris that the Olympic torch has been extinguished by officials following protests. The torch, which is supposed to remain lit throughout it’s journey of peace and unity around the world, has reportedly been bundled onto a bus and driven away from the crowds. French TV has apparently cut to a generic shot of the Eiffel Tower. This follows yesterday’s attempts by protestors to extinguish the flame in London (see below). There’ll be more details as we get them…
We told you yesterday about the chaos and protests surrounding the London leg of the Olympic torch relay, well now you can see all the fun and games for yourself. In addition to the videos embedded after the jump, the BBC has a blow by blow account of all the major flashpoints on the route as well as video footage of each one, while Londonist has a series of pictures (including the one embedded here) from the beleagured relay and the accompanying demonstrations.
The reaction from China has been pretty much as expected with officials calling the protests an act of ‘sabotage’. Shanghai Daily, while stating that ‘tens of thousands people lined the route of the relay to cheer the event, far outnumbering protesters’, offer us this hard-hitting interview:
Cathy Sing, a London resident, said that she was puzzled by the protesters who said they were supporting the “independence of Tibet.” “Tibet has been part of China for several hundred years,” she said, adding that the disruption had been well-planned to tarnish China’s image.
The latest lucky recipients of the torch are the French who have been urged by the Chinese government not to encourage protests. However, with Paris’ Socialist mayor planning to cover his offices with an enormous banner protesting China’s human rights abuses and Reporters Without Borders promising ‘spectacular’ protests, prospects for a peaceful procession of the flame don’t appear too bright.
Videos after the jump:
A clip from the Ladbroke Grove incident where a protestor nearly wrestles the torch from TV presenter Konnie Huq:
Al-Jazeera’s report on the trouble: