Protesting China's human rights record and recent treatment of Tibet, the French managed to slow the long, slow march to Beijing of the flame. Protesters impeded the flame and even managed to get close enough to douse the flame in water. In typical French fashion they failed to extinguish it. But, what the French failed to do, the organizers did--four times--to avoid the protesters.
Thankfully, there is a backup flame so that the even when the torch is extinguished the Olympic flame lives on...in an enclosed lantern. In classic political speak, the Chinese government played down the French (and British) antics.
Wang Hui, the media head for the Beijing Olympics organising committee, today condemned what she called a "few separatists" involved in the protests, insisting the relay would continue as planned.
"The smooth progress of the torch relay cannot be stopped and will definitely be a big success," she added.
Yes, this has been smooth progress. Just a few bumps in the road for the Chinese tank...I mean flame. Protests are expected elsewhere along the relay in San Francisco.