Corporate Olympic Torch Blocked in East Vancouver, Feb 12, 2010

Corporate Olympic Torch Blocked in East Vancouver, Feb 12, 2010

Corporate Olympic Torch Relay Blocked in East VancouverOn the final day of the 2010 Winter Olympic Torch Relay, the torch was blocked twice in East Vancouver. The first blockade occurred at around 9:30AM when some 150-200 protesters successfully blocked the torch at Victory Square (Cambie and Hastings). Despite having a large number of police, including motorcycle and horse-mounted cops, protesters were able to block Hastings Street and force the torch to change its route, completely bypassing the scheduled event at Victory Park and abandoning all their 'pro-Olympic supporters' there as anti-Olympic protesters chased the torch down Pender Street.


Shortly after, scores of protesters on Commercial Drive were able to blockade the torch and forced it to reroute along Clark Street. Over 200 protesters strung twine and barbed wire across Commercial Drive, then moved to intercept the torch after it had been rerouted. Vancouver horse-mounted police blocked Commercial Drive while dozens of foot and bicycle cops mobilized in the area.

In both cases community members and those participating in the anti-Olympics convergence were able to organize and disrupt the last leg of the torch relay prior to the opening ceremony held later that day at BC Place Stadium.

The night prior, on Feb 11, protesters at the University of BC (UBC) also disrupted the torch relay.

Some video and photographs of these anti-torch actions:

Victory Square Anti-Torch Protest

Photos from Commercial Drive Disruption:

Olympic torch's long journey at emotional end
Arnold Schwarzenegger carries torch along Stanley Park seawall
CBC News, Friday, February 12, 2010

The Olympic torch arrives by voyageur canoe in downtown Vancouver on Firday afternoon. The Olympic torch arrives by voyageur canoe in downtown Vancouver on Firday afternoon. (CBC)

The Olympic flame neared the end of its emotional journey on Friday afternoon, carried by dragon boat and voyageur canoe across Vancouver's False Creek, then through downtown Vancouver, where it awaits its last big role.

The relay officially wrapped up its 45,000-kilometre journey at the Four Host First Nations Pavilion on West Georgia Street opposite the CBC building at 1:45 p.m., where the torcher-bearer lit a cauldron in front of thousands of onlookers.

The flame will stay there until evening, when it will be carried into BC Place Stadium to light the giant cauldron, marking the climax of the opening ceremony and the official start of the Games.

Throughout the final day of the 106-day relay, emotions ran high among the thousands of people who turned out to cheer, sing, cry or protest as the torch passed through their Vancouver neighbourhoods.

Dozens of times, the crowds broke into spontaneous renditions of O Canada!
Protesters blocked relay

Some people used the relay as a chance to raise their concerns about poverty and homelessness. Organizers rerouted the relay Friday morning after protesters stopped it from passing through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Just after 9 a.m., organizers were forced to pause the large convoy of vehicles, runners and security personnel after running into the roadblock created by about 200 anti-Olympic protesters.

By 9:40 a.m., the torch was rerouted around the roadblock, forcing organizers to skip a ceremony with veterans at the cenotaph and pick up the pace of the relay.

Downtown Eastside resident Robert Milton was carrying the torch at the time of the protest and said he was shocked when police told him he would be travelling a different way at the last minute.

"I had to go around the original route because of the protesters," he said. "The security guys were a bit freaked out and they didn't want to see me get in trouble. I did happen to miss my family unfortunately, but they found me."

The relay was reportedly rerouted again after encountering protesters in East Vancouver near Venebles Street and Commercial Drive. Many schoolchildren and others who had come out to see the flame told CBC News they were angry the torch was rerouted.

Schwarzenegger draws a crowd

The protests were in sharp contrast to the crowds of thousands who turned out before sunrise for a chance to see California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger carry the Olympic torch along the Stanley Park seawall on the star-studded final day of the cross-Canada relay.
Police and protesters reach a standoff as the torch relay passes through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.Police and protesters reach a standoff as the torch relay passes through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. (CBC)

Schwarzenegger began his leg with the flame at 7:03 a.m., just as the sun began to come up, surrounded by hundreds of screaming fans.

Security guards cleared the way for the former movie star and bodybuilder as he walked the flame to Brockton Point Lighthouse overlooking Vancouver and handed it off to former British Olympian Sebastian Coe, head of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, in an extended photo-op for journalists.

But the enthusiasm of the crowds turned out to be too much for the small security team and Schwarzenegger and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell were trapped by the mob before the team finally managed to clear a way out.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, passes the Olympic flame to Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympic Organizing Committee, on the last day of the relay.California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, passes the Olympic flame to Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympic Organizing Committee, on the last day of the relay. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Crowds line streets for final leg of torch run
Friday Feb. 12, 2010

The Olympic flame came to life in the pre-morning darkness Friday on Vancouver's iconic Lion's Gate Bridge.

Over the next several hours – on the final leg of its epic journey -- the flame had brushes with superstars and protesters. It was jogged along English Bay and paddled along False Creek.

Finally, just before 2 p.m., it came to rest at the Four Host First Nations Pavilion, where it was to stay until Friday night's Opening Ceremony at BC Place.

Torchbearer Walter Gretzky, father of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, summed up the sentiments of many who had the honour of running with the torch.

"I'm 71 years of age, and to look around and see all you wonderful people, it's incredible, I just about started to cry," he said.

It was a bit of mob scene earlier in the morning as actor-turned-politician Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger carried the torch in Stanley Park.

Some spectators shouted out to Schwarzenegger in poor attempts at Austrian accents, while others held signs that read "The Torchinator" and "Run, go, get to da choppa!" -- a quote from the movie "Predator."

It was an emotional day for torchbearer Rolly Fox, father of Canadian hero Terry Fox, who almost 30 years ago stirred Canadians with his cross-country run to raise money for cancer research.

"I will definitely be running," Fox said as he waited for the torch to arrive. "I know he would be looking down right now and saying, ‘Way to go, Dad.'"

Other notables who ran with the torch Friday, included former B.C. Lion Luis Passaglia and legendary big band leader Dal Richards.

"It's a thrill I've never had before," Richards said moments after his run with the torch. "It's a highlight of my long and varied and checkered career."

The torch run wasn't without protest.

A few dozen protesters blocked the torch route at Victory Square in the Downtown Eastside, where numerous veterans had awaited the flame's arrival.

The relay course was re-routed.

"I think that the torch needs to be run right off the road," said one of the protesters, Lauren Gill.

"We're basically standing up and saying, 'No, we're not going to accept this, we're not going to accept that torch coming through here and the Games being held in our city.'"

Veteran Jim Stanton said protesters should have held their demonstration away from the war memorial.

"This is an important day for Canada, this is an important day to recognize the contributions of our veterans and it's unfortunate that it has to be spoiled by some brats," he said.

The relay covered 45,000 kilometres, starting in Victoria last October, and going as far east as Cape Spear, NL., and as far north as the outpost of Alert, Nunavut.

The identity of the individual who will carry the torch into BC Place Friday night for the Opening Ceremony remains a tightly guarded secret.

With files from CTV British Columbia's Leah Hendry and The Canadian Press

On the final day, the torch-bearing lineup included Rolly Fox, the father of Terry Fox, Walter Gretzky, the father of retired hockey great Wayne Gretzky, legendary Vancouver big band leader Dal Richards and sports stars Stan Smyl, Beckie Scott, Bob Lenarduzzi and Lui Passaglia.

While the identity of the final torchbearer remains a secret, it is widely speculated that Wayne Gretzky has been chosen to carry the torch into BC Place.

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