28 Mar 2009

IOC's Olympic torch ban after Beijing chaos

4:43 pm on 28 March 2009

The International Olympic Committee has decided to scrap torch relays outside the host country ahead of Olympic Games in the wake of last year's chaos in the build-up to Beijing.

The decision, which will first apply to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, was taken by the IOC executive committee meeting in Denver, Colorado.

"After the (2004) relay in Athens, which was the first international relay, we came to the conclusion it was easier for the torch to stay inside the (host) country," IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said.

"There were difficulties with the NOCs (National Olympic Committees), and we also saw the risk with a torch relay going around the world.

The Olympics torch relay ahead of Beijing was sent on an ambitious world tour that rapidly disintegrated into chaos amid angry protests in cities such as Paris, London and San Francisco over China's human rights record, notably in Tibet.

Organisers of the 2012 London Olympics have already said they had no plans to take the torch outside Britain.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said: "We changed our minds for Beijing in 2008 because of the insistence of the Chinese. You know what happened during the relay and the angry incidents, which were dotted along the route, on one of the symbols of the Olympics.

"Because of the media attention that the relay attracts, someone, someday will surely abuse it."