( dpa ) - The London leg of the Olympic torch relay was due to start on Sunday, with a carnival atmosphere but also protests expected in the host city of the 2012 Games.
Human rights activists have announced that they would use the opportunity to protest China's crackdown of the unrest in Tibet and other human rights issues as the torch for the Beijing Games August 8-24 passes through town.
The torch arrived late Saturday at Heathrow airport, with Chinese ambassador Fu Ying and British Olympics minister Tessa Jowell on hand to greet it.
Sunday's relay was due to start at 0930 at Wembley for a 50- kilometre journey to the O2 Arena, passing landmarks such as Tower Bridge and Nelson's Column.
Eighty athletes, celebrities and dignitaries were to carry the torch which was also travel via bicycle and bus. They included former rowing hero Sir Stephen Redgrave and Dame Kelly Holmes, who won double middle distance running gold 2004 in Athens.
A warm welcome was expected especially in Chinatown, but 2,000 police were to be on hand to deal with the expected protests from groups such as Free Tibet. Scotland Yard said it expected at least six groups to stage protests.
Protests occurred during he lighting of the Olympic flame in ancient Olympia, Greece, on March 24, and the handover of the flame to China in Athens on March 30.
The flame arrived in Beijing on March 31 but the next day went on the international leg of the longest torch relay in Olympic history. The flame returns to China on May 4, with controversial legs planned in Tibet and to the summit of Mt Everest.
The relay concludes on August 8 when the last torch bearer lights the Olympic Cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games.