The symbolic Olympic torch was lit Wednesday in San Francisco and taken into a warehouse in a bid to thwart thousands of protestors lining the expected route along the city's waterfront. ( dpa )
Local reports said the torch would be transported by boat instead of on the road.
The torch relay was preceded by minor skirmishes as pro-Beijing supporters waving huge red flags confronted anti-China protestors Wednesday. Authorities shortened the 10-kilometre route and cut the roster of runners in a bid to minimize the disturbances that had followed the torch in London and Paris.
"Liars, liars, liars," shouted hundreds of ethnic Chinese-Americans at protestors who held a Tibetan flag and signs saying "Save Darfur." Elsewhere, people draped in Tibetan flags lay in the streets in an attempt to disrupt the torch relay.
Police were out in force to keep the opposing groups apart, and there were no immediate reports of arrests as thousands of protestors gathered along the city's waterfront to cheer or protest the passage of the Olympic flame. Many of the other protestors slammed Beijing's policies in Tibet and its curtailment of freedom of speech, but there was also a group of nudists calling for a return to the way the ancient Greek games were played.