Australia beefs up security for Olympic torch

Other News Materials 8 April 2008 07:37 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Security has been beefed up and the Canberra route of the Olympic torch relay changed in light of the protests by pro- Tibet activists during the London and Paris legs of the relay, Australian officials said Tuesday.

"Certainly we may have to enhance security," said Jon Stanhope, chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which includes Canberra. "We are reviewing that. The route certainly has been under review, and some changes have been made."

Stanhope said he would not provide a bus so the torch could pass protesters unhindered later this month. The Olympic torch was taken on and off a bus in Paris - forcing it to be snuffed out and relit for safety reasons - and there were 48 police cars, 65 motorcycles and hundreds of police officers in attendance.

Stanhope said that keeping protesters at bay by having the torch aboard a bus was defeating the object of the exercise.

"If that is the basis on which the relay is forced to be conducted, it really does undo all the significance of the torch relay," he said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who will be in Sydney and not Canberra when the torch makes its only appearance in Australia, has ruled out protection for the torch from Chinese security agents.

"We will not be having Chinese security forces providing security for the torch when it is in Australia," Rudd said in London before flying on to Beijing and the last stop in a 17-day world tour. "Australia will be providing that security."