Olympic officials vow to push ahead with relay


International Olympic Committee members said Wednesday they were determined to go ahead with the protest-marred Beijing Olympic torch relay, as they braced for more demonstrations in San Francisco.

IOC President Jacques Rogge, speaking privately to top IOC officials ahead of a two-day executive board meeting here starting Thursday, said protests that disrupted legs in London and Paris this week should not be allowed to derail the relay.

IOC member Timothy Fok, the head of Hong Kong's National Olympic Committee, said Rogge had informed members at a breakfast meeting earlier Wednesday that the IOC intended to keep the relay on track until the end.

"The consensus is that the torch relay will go on," he said.

"Rogge said that everything should be normal and proceed as planned and, although there may be some minor adjustments to the route, the general message is that the route will not be changed."

Thomas Bach, the IOC vice president from Germany, said the relay should go ahead despite the protests.

"To stop it now would be a victory for violence," he said.

"We are monitoring the developments with great attention in San Francisco and the executive board will be discussing the issue in detail at the board meeting."

Adjustments to the torch relay include scaling back the activities of the three torch relay sponsors in San Francisco, said Gerhard Heiberg of Norway, a member of the executive board who also heads the IOC's marketing commission.

The sponsors are South Korean conglomerate Samsung, Coca-Cola, and Chinese computer maker Lenovo.

"We are in constant communication with the three sponsors of the torch relay and they will keep a low profile in San Francisco," he said.

"We have told them not to do too much for their own PR. Hopefully everything goes well and they we can increase their profile in the next cities."

Heiberg gave no other details on the issue.

He also said that the IOC was closely watching developments in San Francisco where major protests from various groups, including pro-Tibet activists, are expected to take place.

"Of course we are following things that are happening there from one minute to the next," he said. (AFP)