China ‘torch guardians’ warned

Australian organiser says Olympic attendants will be arrested if they touch protesters.

Australia says the Chinese officials' only role is to "light the torch should it be extinguished" [AFP]
Australia says the Chinese officials' only role is to "light the torch should it be extinguished" [AFP]

The Australian official’s remarks came as Pakistan welcomed the Olympic torch early on Wednesday.


Mohammed Yahya, the event co-ordinator, said there was “absolutely no chance of any trouble, any protest against it” but indicated “all the security arrangements are in place to ensure peace” during the relay.

Security around the torch has become a hot-button issue since anti-China protesters began targeting the Olympic symbol, causing chaos along the relay legs in London and Paris and causing organisers in other cities to change the route and beef up protection measures.
Olympic flame guardians

“Flame protection squad” formed in August 2007, tasked with protecting the flame 24 hours a day

Seventy members picked from People’s Armed Police, usually responsible for riot control and domestic stability

Training for squad included running 10km a day on mountain roads

Called “thugs” by Sebastian Coe, chairman of the 2012 London Olympics organising committee

Criticised for not knowing how to handle protests and acting as “robots or watchdogs” by David Douillet, a French Olympic official

Blamed for holding up the relay’s progress in Paris through procrastination by Pierre Mure, a Paris police official

Track-suited Chinese officials recruited from paramilitary forces have been accompanying the flame along the relay.

The guards, member of the Chinese paramilitary police, were criticised for heavy-handed tactics in London and Paris.
Robert McClelland, Australia’s attorney-general, said security in Canberra will be the responsibility of the Australian Federal Police.
“The only role that they – the Chinese officials – will play will be to light the torch should it be extinguished,” he said.
Australian police have been given new powers for the relay on April 24 authorising them to stop and search people along the relay route and ban them from carrying “prohibited items” such as “balls, eggs, paint bombs and any similar item that is likely to be used as a projectile”.
Source : News Agencies

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