Page last updated at 05:43 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 06:43 UK

Scuffles in Japan at torch relay


Aerial and ground footage of the latest Olympic torch scuffles in Japan.

The Olympic torch has met with more protests and scuffles on the latest leg of its troubled relay in the Japanese city of Nagano.

With security tight along the route, two demonstrators tried to seize the torch and a third threw eggs at the flame. All were arrested.

But correspondents say the relay passed off without serious disruption.

The streets were lined with thousands of Chinese supporters, as well as dozens of protesters.

A sea of wellwishers greeted the torch as the final runner completed the relay at a city park.

Officials said four people were slightly injured in separate incidents, and a smoke-emitting tube was thrown at the relay without effect, according to reports.

More than 3,000 police officers were brought in to guard the event after demonstrations had plagued the flame in some other cities on its route.

In a last-minute change, the Nagano leg of the relay began in a car park rather than a 1,400-year-old Buddhist temple.

The temple was withdrawn as the starting point after objections over China's crackdown in Tibet.

The start of the relay, with the torch first carried by the manager of Japan's national baseball team, was closed to the public, as were rest stops on the route.

Riot police

Protests elsewhere on the torch's progress - and the huge security operations they have spawned - have turned the celebratory tour of 20 countries into what analysts describe as a public-relations disaster for Beijing.

A man, in beige jacket, is apprehended by police officers escorting a torchbearer during the Beijing Olympic torch relay

Earlier, Japan told Chinese Olympics organisers that the large team of security officers who have accompanied the flame elsewhere would not be welcome here, says BBC Japan correspondent Chris Hogg.

Instead riot police in running gear surrounded the athletes carrying the torch along each stage of the four-hour relay.

Two columns of 40 police officers each flanked the torch, making it hard for spectators to see much, the organisers admit.

In advance of the torch's arrival, buses full of riot police patrolled the streets and police helicopters hovered overhead.

Vietnam expulsion

Japan, which has had a troubled relationship with China, took extensive steps to ensure that any disruption was kept to a minimum.

Over the following few days, the torch will stop in South Korea, North Korea, and Vietnam.

In Hanoi, Vietnam, authorities expelled a US citizen of Vietnamese origin who they say was planning protests against the torch, reported state media.

Protests in Athens, London, Paris and San Francisco - where demonstrators angry at China's policies in Tibet tried to disrupt processions - have dominated media coverage of the torch relay.

However, the flame has made relatively peaceful progress through other cities, including Bangkok in Thailand and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

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