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Olympic torch on grim trip in Jakarta
April 22, 2008 10:10 IST
The Olympic torch will make another curtailed relay under tight security before a selected audience in the Indonesian capital on Tuesday, the latest stop along its fraught journey around the world.
Indonesian authorities have deployed about 2,500 policemen and about 1,000 members of the military to guard the torch relay, which has drawn a wave of anti-China protests during stopovers in Europe and the Americas following Beijing's [Images] crackdown last month on protests in Tibet [Images].
Pro-China demonstrations, many involving Chinese studying overseas, are becoming increasingly common as well.
There have been several demonstrations outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta over Tibet, although they have been small in scale in the mainly Muslim nation.
"From the report that we received last week, there will be some groups protesting. They are welcome to protest as long as they do not disturb us," said Sumohadi Marsis, head of the organising committee for Jakarta.
The relay had originally been due to pass through large stretches of the bustling city, but sports officials said the route would be restricted to the vicinity of Bung Karno Stadium, named for Indonesia's mercurial first president, Sukarno.
Only about 5,000 invitees and accredited members of the media would be allowed into the complex, Marsis told a news conference on Monday.
M. Gatot, senior official at the Indonesian Society for Free Tibet, told Reuters that about 500 supporters planned a rally in Jakarta.
Rita Subowo, chairwoman of the Indonesian Olympics [Images] Committee, urged Indonesians to help make this year's Olympics a success.
"We should not mix sports with politics, race or religion. We must defend the rights of athletes to compete in the Olympics," she told reporters on Monday.
"I hope the Chinese will be able to resolve their own internal matters."
The flame travels next to the Australian capital, where organisers said they were re-routing the flame from the heart of the capital amid fears of clashes between pro-China and pro-Tibet demonstrators.
Security concerns have also prompted changes to the torch route in Japan [Images] and caused sponsors to pull out of a motorcade for Saturday's relay in Nagano City.