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French Olympic chief, spectators condemn disruption of Olympic torch relay in Paris
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08:53, April 08, 2008

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Head of the French Olympic Committee and spectators on Monday strongly condemned the disruption of the Olympic torch relay here by Tibetan separatists and their supporters.

Henri Serandour, head of the French Olympic Committee criticized the disruption as "highly regrettable."

"I think that people should have let this flame through, that they could have held their protests to one side," he said.

"Everyone has a right to express themselves but to stop it passing shows a lack of respect for the basic freedom of our athletes to carry this flame, which is a message of peace to the whole world," the chief said.

Another member of the French Olympic Committee said that the Olympic torch relay should not be affected in any way.

"The Olympic sacred fire is a symbol of peace, tolerance... and should not be affected by anybody in any way," Guy Drut told France 3 television.

Chairman of "Europe-China Cooperation" Club Alain Destrem said that the attempt to block the Olympic torch relay in Paris was "unacceptable". It was a "shameful" scene appearing in the hometown of Pierre De Coubertin, father of the modern Olympic Games, and those people participating in the disruption should be condemned, he said.

He expressed his sincere hopes the Olympic flame can safely and smoothly arrive in Beijing, and Beijing will hold a highly-appreciated Olympic Games.

A French mother bringing her four-year-old daughter to come to see the torch relay told a Xinhua correspondent that the event would have been a festival of celebration if without those disruptions. "Their behavior will only humiliate themselves," she said.

Her view was shared by others lining along the relay route. "We've come here only to watch the torch relay," said a Paris student, who gave his first name as Mark.

"What in the world does this have anything to do with us except for annoying us?" he added, pointing to Tibetan separatist demonstrators.

As one of a few invited foreign torch bearers, Chinese handicapped athlete Jin Jing just finished torch relaying in front of the Eiffel Tower. She said: "The disruption of torch relay and binding sports with politics make people resentful."

"From the expression on spectators' faces, I can see that they don't approve those sabotaging actions as well," said she.

The Olympic torch in Paris, the fifth leg of its global travel, was repeatedly disrupted by Tibetan separatists and their supporters who tried to grab the torch or block the relay route. The torch had to be carried on bus several times as precaution measures against the protesters.

Source: Xinhua

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