An exhilarating day for the 24-hour news channels.
I happened to be watching Sky News as the protestor who approached Konnie Huq was being dealt with. For some reason their camera suddenly diverted from the action to a shot of the crowd, but I wasn’t sure if this was deliberate or something to do with the officers approaching them moments before.
So I switched to BBC News 24, in the hope of better coverage.
Konniq Huq was reported to have been wavering on whether to take part, and had wanted to wear a ‘free tibet’ badge (the olympic rules preventing her from making political statement while taking part).
When interviewed on news 24 (following her tussle with a handy protestor) she seemed to imply both reports were untrue. That didn’t matter though, by the end of the interview she’d said ‘despicable’ - twice- when referring to China’s human rights record, and even managed to fit in a reminder that Tiananmen Square was 20 years ago, before summing up by saying that if good things came of the protests (presumably the particular one she’d been caught up in) then that could only be positive.
Following this event and numerous others, police numbers understandably intensified. From a whole afternoon’s hard work you have to be impressed with their actions. However, at 2:40PM ( as the torch made an unplanned change to a bus) the beeb news 24 sky cam picked up an incident - where a heated verbal exchange between an officer and a protestor moved from words and gestures to what appeared to be the officer quickly raising both arms and pushing the protestor backwards with some force. I wasn’t convinced that action was necessary or appropriate given what I’d seen previously. I logged the time so I can look out for it on repeats.
If you approach the three-layer (blue tracksuited officials, yellow jacketed officers and later blue uniforms) security detail you’re asking to be pushed back, restrained or otherwise dealt with. But running ahead of them, with your flag, and going in their direction (therefore not at the torch or it’s bearers, and going away from them) causing neither harm, aggravation or hindering progress - do you really deserve to be rugby tackled to the ground?
The question of rugby-tackling protestors was put to the commander of the Met on one of his numerous little slots throughout the day, the question was evaded with a re-statement of their obligations - and I agree that safety and progress was their job, and largely it appeared well handled, but these instances made grim viewing. I hope they will be followed up.
I’m trying to find blog entries to find out what people on the ground have to say. So far I’ve only got this: adambowie.com/weblog/archive/002400.html"https://philtaylor.org.uk/?p=1229" title="Torch Farce, Mayor's creature">https://philtaylor.org.uk/?p=1229
All in all a good day, point made without harm, PR event ruined. Some of the olympians got my back up though - some (not all) when interviewed seemed to think that protesting at an Olympic event wasn’t appropriate, Duncan Goodhew used the word ‘nasty’. They kept mentioning “kids”, “future”, “everyone”. . They forget that the torch will travel through territory occupied by the Olympic host. I doubt those kids, and that everyone, will be joining in. Being imprisoned or dead has a way of limiting your Olympic fervour. Keeping politics out of sport is like keeping people out of sport.
They don’t condone China’s actions, but they don’t want you to rain on their parade.
I am happy though - everyone’s played their part - the games go to China, which brings the torch here, which our Olympians carry, which those with a sense of danger - and a stronger sense of what’s right - use to tell the host nation that their actions in Tibet aren’t right. The police try to make sure no-one comes to harm and the event goes off as planned, The Government reiterates our freedom to protest peacefully (so long as we’ve got a license…) and our Olympians will go and participate ( as Sir Steve pointed out, previous boycotts by athletes had no effect) and hopefully do well. The job’s done.
The torch is off to Paris next, can’t wait!