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China Warns Olympic Torch Protesters as IOC Considers Ending Relay


The Chinese government has warned protesters against further disrupting the Olympic torch relay after anti-China demonstrators disrupted the relay in Europe. Meanwhile, an International Olympic Committee official has said the committee is considering scrapping torch relays altogether to prevent future incidents. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that groups protesting the Olympic torch relay are against the spirit of the Games.

Demonstrators in both London and Paris tried to snuff out the torch, and on both legs forced it to be carried part way through the cities by bus.

On Monday, Chinese Olympic officials cut short the relay's Paris leg after hundreds of activists disrupted the run.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu says the disruption and sabotage of the torch relay defy the Olympic charter, the world legal system and peace-loving people around the world.

Activists are protesting China's human rights record, and especially its heavy-handed rule of Tibet. A recent Chinese crackdown on Tibetan anti-government protests have led to increased international concern about Tibet.

The International Olympic Committee president has expressed concern about the situation in Tibet but in general has decried the mingling of sports and politics.

In response, IOC officials say they may end the torch relay early and perhaps even stop the practice altogether.

"What we get concerned with is that people take advantage of a democratic environment to abuse good order and take it out on the Olympic torch," said Kevan Gosper, an IOC board member. "If people simply demonstrated to make their cause clear, that's one thing. But, for people to demonstrate to the extent where violence takes place and with people arrested, it's a complete abuse of our democratic right and that upsets us."

Dozens were arrested for demonstrating.

Chinese television, which normally censors anti-China protests, has given air time to the London and Paris demonstrations. Earlier protests in Athens and Istanbul were not covered.

Beijing has lumped most Olympic torch protesters in the category of "Tibetan independence separatist forces." But, demonstrators have also denounced China's government for jailing political dissidents, controlling the media, and supporting human rights-abusing governments.

The relay continues in San Francisco Wednesday where large protests are expected. Activists have already been arrested for erecting banners, calling for a free Tibet, on the city's Golden Gate Bridge.


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