Olympic Torch lights enthusiasm in France

Olympic Torch lights enthusiasm

OLYMIC FLAME: The Torch arrived in Marseille on May 8 Photo credit: Marianne Casamance

More people than expected lined the route of the Olympic Torch on the first 10 days of its journey to Paris.

The flame that was lit in Athens on April 16 arrived in Marseille aboard the sailing ship Belem on May 8.  It was welcomed by around 230,000 people before setting out the following day on travels that will end in the French capital on July 26.

The success of the Marseille event came as no surprise, as it coincided with a two-day public holiday but crowds since then were larger than anticipated, with daily feedback showing they exceeded the Ministry of Sport’s original forecast by between 20 and 30 per cent.

People were turning out on working days as the Torch was passed from hand to hand from Marseille to Toulouse where it arrived on May 17 via Millau, Montpellier and Perpignan.

“This relay is a time for local people, a time for local pride,” said Sports minister Amelie Oudaa-Castera, whose ministry had been saying for some time that enthusiasm would grow once the Olympic Torch was on French soil.

Nevertheless, not everyone shares that enthusiasm. “Two attempts to come into contact with the flame were averted,” Interior minister Gerald Darmanin  told Le Monde newspaper, revealing that the authorities have already prevented 32 protests.

These included a Greenpeace, Stop Total and Oxfam demonstration that was planned for Toulouse on May 17  to condemn the practices of the Torch’s sponsor, the multinational steel manufacturing corporation ArcelorMittal.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.