Olympic Torch Route Cut for Jakarta Relay

JAKARTA ~ Indonesia has drastically shortened the Olympic torch route through Jakarta following massive protests in other cities, organizers said on Thursday.

The torch will remain in central Jakarta, they said, scrapping plans to take it to the north and west of the sprawling capital after chaotic scenes in London and Paris.

“There has been a change of route … after the incidents in Greece, France and England,” relay organizer Sumohadi Marsis said.

“The initial plan was for the torch to leave City Hall for Chinatown then go to the National Monument Square … But there were worries from the security side.”

The torch, which arrives in Jakarta on April 22, will now be carried around a city centre sports stadium, where 1,500 police will be deployed to ensure security.

Pro-Tibet campaigners have shadowed the flame from the moment it was lit in Greece on March 24, starting its 20-country, 137,000-kilometre journey to Beijing for the August Olympic Games.

The relay route was altered in San Francisco due to protests by activists seeking to highlight many controversies surrounding the Chinese government, including its controversial rule of Tibet and human rights record.

Dozens of protesters were arrested in London when the flame passed through there on Sunday, while constant disruption forced officials to extinguish the torch five times in Paris on Monday.

International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge said in Beijing Thursday he was “saddened” by the violent protests, but promised the Olympics would rebound. [Page 7, Editorial: Olympic Farce]

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