Olympic Torch Arrives in Buenos Aires
Update: The torch has made its way through Buenos Aires, met with pro-Tibet protesters and a pro-China contingent as well.
Argentine runners relayed the Olympic torch past fenced-off protesters on Friday, as hundreds of China supporters in red windbreakers tried to reverse weeks of bad publicity for the host of the Summer Games.
Activists opposing China's human rights record unfurled banners and promised "entertaining surprises" but pledged to keep their demonstrations peaceful after protests marred stops in London, Paris and San Francisco.
Hundreds of spectators cheered as Chinese delegates wearing Argentina's blue-and-white lit the torch from a lantern that has carried the flame from the site of the ancient Olympic games in Greece.
Call me crazy, but maybe they should just stop the torch's route now, especially if no one is even getting to see it anymore and it has to be conducted under so much security. Seems like a waste of resources to me.
Though Argentina is billing Friday's Olympic torch run as an easygoing street fiesta, officials are worried enough about anti-China protests to mobilize thousands of police officers after torch runs in other cities caused chaos and protesters warned of a Buenos Aires "surprise."
Argentine authorities are deploying 1,300 federal police, 1,500 naval police and some 3,000 traffic police and volunteers -- enough to ensure security "without going to the extreme that nobody will be able to see the torch," said government sports official Francisco Irarrazabal.
Mr. Irarrazabal said at the airport that the jetliner carrying the torch and a Chinese delegation had arrived Thursday afternoon as expected, and that the flame, kept in a "safety lantern," was being whisked to an undisclosed overnight location for safekeeping.
Security concerns were so tight that news agency photographers called to cover the torch's arrival on the runway at Ezeiza International Airport were told just before the arrival that their photo opportunity had been canceled. No explanation was given, and the torch remained out of public view.
The Olympic torch dodged China foes in Europe and played hide-and-seek with crowds in San Francisco. Now the flame is making its only Latin American stop on a five-continent tour amid cloak-and-dagger secrecy after recent turmoil.
Handlers let no one publicly view the arrival of the flame in Buenos Aires, on its latest leg en route to Beijing.