- By Mike Boyer
You had to see this one coming. Following Monday’s embarrassing debacle in Ancient Olympia, the much touted 85,000-mile round the world relay of the Olympic torch — dubbed the “Journey of Harmony” — is reportedly being scaled back, most notably in San Francisco and Paris. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome confirmed yesterday that the planned events in the City by the Bay, the torch’s only stop in North America, are already being altered.
Elsewhere, Chinese authorities are requesting that the “harmony” of the journey be imposed by force. They have requested, for instance, that the Australian military accompany the torch through Canberra next month. An Aussie government official characterized Beijing’s level of anxiety over the possibility of protests at torch events this way: “They’re absolutely wetting their pants….”
Australia denied China’s request, according to reports, and doesn’t plan to scale back events. San Francisco, Paris, and other major cities along the relay route should do the same. The concept of the Olympic torch relay was first conceived for the 1936 games held in Nazi Germany. It would be a sad irony if Beijing and the International Olympic Committee are allowed to continue their pathetic charade of denial. Where is Tom Lantos when we need him?
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |