Protestors force Olympic torch diversion - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Protestors force Olympic torch diversion

By Simon Evans 06/02/2006 06:07:21 AM Comments (0)

The Olympic torch was diverted away from two towns about 50kms from Turin on Sunday because of feared trouble from protesters opposed to a rail development.

Winter Olympics organising committee (TOROC) spokesman Stefano Coscia told Reuters that the police had advised that the torch should not to be taken through the Susa Valley towns of Bussoleno and Borgone Susa.

Earlier on Sunday, a protester had briefly covered the torch with a flag during chaotic scenes when it entered Italy's Susa Valley, the focal point for a campaign against a high-speed rail project.

"The police told us not to go through Bussoleno and Borgone Susa through public order concerns," Coscia said.

Instead, the torch will be taken directly to the nearby mountain town of Bardonecchia where an evening celebration is planned.

There was a heavy police presence in the valley and local environmentalists said protests had been planned for both Bussoleno and Borgone Susa. Several hundred protesters carried out their demonstration in Bussoleno despite the absence of the torch.

Flag waving protesters lined the road between Susa and Bussoleno where demonstrators carried out an alternative procession, featuring runners carrying unlit torches covered in anti-rail slogans.

The two main corporate sponsors of the torch procession, Samsung and Coca Cola, had opted out of participating in Sunday's leg of the tour, a TOROC spokesman said.

The communist mayor of Bussoleno had initially said he would refuse to allow Coke to hand out their publicity in the town before later changing his mind.

There have been numerous protests against a high-speed rail link planned between Italy and France as the torch has made its way around Italy ahead of the Winter Games that start on Friday.

The Susa Valley lies on the French-Italian border about 50 kms north of Turin and connects the city with mountain resorts which will be used for the Games.

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