Beijing olympics : Protests disrupt flame lighting

Ancient Olympia, March 24:

Protests by press freedom and pro-Tibet groups disrupted the flame lighting ceremony on Monday for the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics.

Three members of the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders were detained after running onto the stadium field during the ceremony in Ancient Olympia. Police confirmed they had detained three French nationals.

One protester displayed a banner showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs, while Liu Qi, president of the Beijing organising committee and Beijing Communist Party Secretary, was

giving a speech. “If the Olympic flame is sacred, human rights are even more so,” the French group said in a statement. Moments later, a Tibetan woman covered herself in red paint and lay in the road in front of a runner carrying the Olympic torch into the nearby village of ancient Olympia, while other protesters chanted “Free Tibet” and “Shame on China.”

IOC president Jacques Rogge attended the ceremony, where the sun’s rays were used to kindle the flame. From Olympia, the flame started on its 137,000-kilometre journey across the five continents, ending at the Beijing stadium on August 8.