Coe pleads with protesters not to spoil Olympic Torch’s relay route

THE OLYMPIC Torch will undertake an 8,000 mile journey in the relay preceding the London Games with organisers calling on protest groups not to disrupt its passage after announcing the route yesterday.

The Olympic Flame will arrive from Greece on 18 May next year and the relay will commence in Land’s End and continue for 70 days until the opening ceremony of the Games.

Lord Coe, chairman of the London organising committee of the Olympic Games, said he was confident the balance could be struck between guaranteeing the safety of the 8,000 torchbearers and maintaining an atmosphere of celebration.

“We will make sure that the torch flame gets around the UK in the safest and most secure way, but at the same time we want communities to celebrate it and not [put it] behind a cordon of steel. I think we’ll get the balance right,” he said.

“This is friendship, this is respect, this is showcasing extraordinary talent in local communities. I really don’t sit here thinking this will be a catalyst for massive demonstrations. I think people get this.”

Coe, unveiling the first 74 locations on the torch’s 70-day tour of the UK, said the relay would be vital in triggering excitement about the London Games beyond the host city.

“I am proud and excited as I envisage the moment that really marks the start of our Olympic celebrations in the UK and far beyond,” said Coe. “Ours will be a Games that takes place on your doorstep.”

The 8,000 torchbearer places are divided between Locog and the three “presenting partners” – Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung – who will help fund the events that will take place at each overnight stop.