By China Watcher
Australia had to be commended for staging the Olympic torch event as part of a carnival in Canberra. About 10,000 pro-Chinese participants came out in full force along the tree-lined avenues swarming with a sea of red flags. It was a wonderful sight to behold and the atmosphere was ringing with patriotic songs and chanting “One China” and “Tibet will be a part of China”.
The whole ceremony opened with Chinese and Australian dances and songs that lasted for nearly three hours. There were hot-air balloons on display and a firework demonstration as well.
The much smaller pro-Tibetan sympathizers converged near the Parliament House and were trying to make some noise but it was easily drowned out. The internet plays a part in getting the Chinese students, workers, expatriates to come out in full support of the torch relay. Anyone who carried a Free Tibet banner is taunted and ridiculed by the larger Chinese crowd where there were no physical assaults or abuses. It was peaceful on both sides without any controversial episode.
Overall, the torch run was largely incident free with the police being given the orders to hauled and handcuff anyone who breach the protective human barricades for the torchbearers to run. Police officers were given the go-ahead to seize eggs, projectiles or fire extinguishers which can be used to disrupt the torch. Extra security officers were on standby in minibuses and vans. Due to the presence of Tibetan sympathizers near the Parliament House, extra layers of security were present to keep these troublemakers out.
There were about 80 runners taking part in the torch relay and it culminated in the lighting of the cauldron by an Olympian legend, Ian Thorpe, with loud cheers from the crowd who came to the Commonwealth Park to witness the historical event.
Police Chief Mike Phelan told reporters that they were determined to allow the torch to complete its full route as planned. Officials claimed a victory because it largely avoided the chaotic protest scenes that marred the portions held in Europe and the United States.
Jeremy Lasek, a spokesman for the Australian Capital Territory, commented that the relay was a success and he proudly added that Aussies show how a run should be conducted.