Thursday, April 10, 2008

Guarding the flame

London Olympic Torch Relay 17
London Olympic Torch Relay 17,
originally uploaded by Tanya N.
The past week's human rights protests at the sites of the Olympic torch relay made me think that one way they could avoid having to cancel the whole affair would be to parcel it out in a distributed fashion.

Of the 15 international cities still waiting to have the relay pass through, divide them up into five groups of three. It appears they have a number of backups of the vaguely tusk-shaped torch, so they could provide one to each of the cities in the group. They could then have three more-or-less simultaneous runnings of each torch on three successive days (one hopes with rather less amount of security detail required, for each venue) in the hopes that one of the three torches would reach its destination unhampered by protests on any given day. Only in the unlikely event that one of the three cities in the group would have the first two of its relay legs disrupted would we be in a situation where the leg (the last one) would be a must-have, a single point of failure, and security could be beefed up in such a case to such a level as is required.

Or, if it really seems impractical to safeguard the relay runners, one could simply take them and the city's torch up in a helicopter or blimp which would trace the route far overhead, out of hand-thrown missile range. This would have the added advantage with its aerial setting of increasing the visibility of the Olympic torch and what it represents.

Once the group has completed its relays, organizers could go through afterwards and declare what the official route of the sacred Torch had actually been through those three cities.

One would expect that the section of the relay which passes through China itself would be more or less immune to the kind of problems experienced up to now. If tension increases to such an extent that this is not a reasonable assumption, then similar measures could be taken for that section of the relay.

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