IOA: No decision yet on torch route

Tibetan protests in New Delhi this month

Amidst security and diplomatic concerns over the Olympic torch run across New Delhi being marred by Tibetans protests, Indian authorities could be forced to cut short the ceremonial run in the capital. Reports suggest that the route of the Olympic torch through Delhi have been cut short. However, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi today (April 3) has clarified that a final decision on the Olympic torch route has not yet been taken. Stating that the safety of the Olympic torch is paramount, Kalmadi said that a decision on the final route will be taken shortly. The announcement was made following a review meeting chaired by the National Security Advisor.

Disruption of the Olympic torch relay by protestors on the streets of New Delhi is a potential nightmare for the Indian government - the fear stems from the fact that China has already warned India against allowing this to happen. Just last week the Indian ambassador in China found herself summoned at 2 am after Tibetean protestors stormed the Chinese embassy at home. China warned the Indians that any repeat would bilateral harm ties.

Zhang Yan, Chinese ambassador to India to India, reiterated his country's stand that "We oppose any country, any organisation, any person, to interfere in Chinese internal affairs."

Now, leaving nothing to chance, the Indian Olympic Association is reportedly thinking of limiting the tourch route.

The present route of the Olympic torch covers nearly 9 kms from Red Fort via Raj Ghat, to India Gate. Reports suggest that this route will be shortened to just 3 kms and sanitised.

In any case, India has already put the Tibetans on notice asking the Dalai Lama to restrain his followers and not upset India's relationship with China.

In a clear message, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the Dalai Lama and his followers were honored guests in India but they should ensure that their actions did not hurt India's bilateral ties with Beijing.

But if previous instances are anything to go by, a determined attempt by Tibetan protestors to disrupt the ceremonial passage cannnot be ruled out - especially when passions run as high as this.

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