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Page last updated at 07:03 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

International torch relays banned

Konnie Huq
The torch was nearly snatched from TV presenter Konnie Huq in London

International torch relays ahead of the Olympics have been scrapped by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

It follows the controversy that surrounded the Beijing Olympic relay which was dogged by protests as the torch made its way around the world.

The 2008 relay's London leg was hit by several incidents and criticism over China's 'torch police' security staff.

Organisers of the 2012 London Olympics have already said they had no plans to take the torch outside Britain.

"We have always said the primary focus would be on a domestic torch relay whose main purpose is to excite and inspire the UK in the build-up to the games," said a London 2012 spokeswoman.

"We planned to take our lead from the IOC and are very happy with this decision as it mirrors what we were intending to do."

I think when the torch relay is inside the host country there is more control

IOC executive director Gilbert Felli

Instead of representing a symbol of hope and inspiration, the Olympic torch became a magnet for protesters in 2008 en route to Beijing, sparking sometimes violent protests over China's human rights record.

IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said: "After the (2004) relay in Athens, which was the first international relay, we came to the conclusion it was easier for the torch to stay inside the (host) country.

"There were difficulties with the NOCs (National Olympic Committees), and we also saw the risk with a torch relay going around the world.

"Beijing had planned an international torch relay and we accepted it. We saw in the debrief that the risk was there and the IOC decided not to do it (again).

"I think when the torch relay is inside the host country there is more control."

The IOC confirmed its decision to scrap international torch relays applies to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and onwards.

London's plans will see the torch tour the country in 2012 with the aim of 95% of the UK's population being no more than an hour away from seeing it at some point during its journey.

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see also
China stages torch relay in Tibet
21 Jun 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Heavy security for Xinjiang relay
17 Jun 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Olympic protest case thrown out
29 Sep 08 |  London
'No regrets' for torch protester
08 Apr 08 |  Hereford/Worcs
Scuffles at South Korea torch leg
27 Apr 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Scuffles in Japan at torch relay
26 Apr 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Nepal torch security 'too harsh'
25 Apr 08 |  South Asia
Torch weathers Indonesia protest
22 Apr 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Relief after Argentina torch relay
12 Apr 08 |  Americas

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