Whatever one’s opinion is on protesting the Olympic torch run to criticize China’s human rights policies, it is clear that the protesters have won. I am watching live CNN’s coverage of the event, which would more accurately be titled the Olympic Torch Evasion.
Viewers saw more pictures of buses, warehouses and boats in San Francisco than we did of torch bearers. The relay started late and officials then changed the route without telling anyone to evade protesters. Once the torch was lit, the runner immediately headed into a warehouse and did not reappear for about 45 minutes. There were rumors that the torch would travel some distance by boat, and CNN showed a police boat for several minutes.
Once the relay was underway it looked pathetic, with police officers outnumbering spectators. At one point, protesters got close enough to police to cause a brief scuffle. People who came out not to protest but to see the torch were SOL since authorities told no one the route. And politics were evident on both sides.
Many of the pro-torch demonstrators carrying red Chinese flags said they were bused in by the Chinese consulate and other pro-China groups, though others said they had come of their own accord. Meanwhile, many of the protesters carried Tibetan flags and preached independence for the country. Others were on hand to support Burma or rail against China's backing of the Sudanese government in its war in Darfur.
The losers were the torch bearers, who saw their moment in the sun ruined. However, I support the right of anyone to peacefully protest and maybe it’s time to shelve the whole torch relay idea. The International Olympic Committee said it is reevaluating plans for the future. The “tradition” started in 1936 by Adolf Hitler under one authoritarian regime and may be ended in a year where an Olympics is hosted by another. –Jim Buzinski