Olympic committee sighs with relief after San Francisco torch relay

Other News Materials 10 April 2008 10:46 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressed relief Thursday that the San Francisco leg of the Olympic torch relay had occurred without major incidents.

After the mayhem that haunted the legs in London and Paris this week, IOC president Jacques Rogge said the situation in San Francisco "was better."

"It was, however, not the joyous party that we had wished it to be," he added at an Olympic meeting in Beijing.

Relay organizers played a two-hour cat-and-mouse game with protesters in San Francisco. Out of fear of confrontations and violence, they changed Wednesday's planned route and cut it short, disappointing thousands of spectators but also avoiding thousands of demonstrators who had lined the original route.

Officials hid the torch at one point in a warehouse and transported it by bus and boat before cancelling a farewell ceremony before it was flown quietly to Buenos Aires, where the relay is to continue Friday as part of a global tour that has been plagued by demonstrations against China's crackdown in Tibet and human- rights record.

"We note with great joy that nothing happened in San Francisco," IOC vice president Thomas Bach said.

IOC marketing chief Gerhard Heiberg called himself "satisfied because there were no injuries" while Swedish executive board member Gunilla Lindbergh praised the resolve not to break off the international leg of the torch relay. "It was the right decision," she said.