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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08CANBERRA416 2008-04-24 07:37:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Canberra
Cable title:  

TORCH RELAY PROCEEDS WITH LITTLE INCIDENT

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PREL CH AS 
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1. (SBU) Summary: Prime Minister Rudd, GOA officials and
Chinese Embassy diplomats here are breathing a collective
sigh of relief after the Olympic torch relay ended late April
24 morning with no major incidents, despite the presence of
thousands of pro-China and pro-Tibet protesters. Two Chinese
"flame attendants" ran on the street near the torch during
the relay but Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers kept
them from running beside the torch bearer. According to
officials, two persons were arrested by police during the
event. End Summary.



2. (SBU) Following the arrival of the Olympic torch on April
23, Chinese officials and Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
officials publicly disagreed during a press conference over
security for the torch. While the AFP said it would be
providing all the security, a senior Chinese Olympic official
said that its trained security personnel should be running
with the torch. When journalists tried to question him
further, the ACT's Chief Minister stepped in and said the
official's remarks were not accepted by the ACT or the
Federal Government. In the end, two Chinese flame attendants
ran on the street near the torch but AFP officers stayed
between them and the runner.



3. (SBU) China's supporters heavily outnumbered pro-Tibet
demonstrators. The media reported that 80 bus loads of China
supporters - both Chinese students studying in Australia and
ethnic Chinese Australian citizens - from Sydney and
Melbourne had come to support the torch relay. China's
supporters were clearly more vocal, much more numerous, and
better organized than the pro-Tibet protesters. Groups of
flag-waving supporters appeared to be placed in an optimal
location for the television cameras. Any confrontations that
did occur were quickly broken up by police or unofficial
pro-China crowd-controllers in yellow shirts.



4. (SBU) Comment: Though the media highlighted the AFP
steering a "torch attendant" away from the torch carrier
during the relay, overall, Australian law enforcement
officers and Chinese officials appeared to be working
together. Prime Minister Rudd, who had assumed a high
profile role in public discussion of arrangements for the
relay, has successfully avoided what could potentially have
been an embarrassing day.

MCCALLUM