48 police vans, 65 motorcycles and more than 200 security personnels, around the flame (one would almost forget the flame bearer drowned among them with an uneasy smirk while Chinese flame guards frame him) dozens more riot police vans at various locations along the way, 3000 police officers dedicated to the event on foot, horseback, roller blades and boats, full mobilization of local security forces for maintaining the outer security perimeter, helicopters… I had never saw such extensive measures in Paris. Was anyone taking notice that the olympic flame was not welcome in Paris ?

So why did I wait for the flame just to shout my displeasure at it ? First, let it be known that it has nothing to do with Tibet, nor with Chinese internal political life. I support the freedom of people and individuals when the struggle is within my reach, but I also recognize the diplomatic need for Realpolitik. I like my cheap Chinese goods and I am fully aware that they cost lives. At the moment we, as a nation-state, do not have the means nor do we really have the will to impose our values on China. We do have an influence, but let’s not delude ourselves about it.

Here are a few interesting items from the fundamental principles of olympism enumerated in the olympic charter :

2. The goal of olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising port, without discrimination of any kind [..]
5. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.

Human dignity, absence of religious or political discrimation ? Am I the only one who believes that the IOC is being more than slightly hypocritical ?

While our relationships with the Chinese government are diplomatic and commercial links between equals, the IOC is an international body and as such it must be considered fully accountable to its members. So my message was not addressed at China – the intended recipient were the IOC and my own government, to put pressure towards an organization of the games more in line with international ethical standards.

Respecting the spirit of olympism within the sport events is one thing I support. I can also understand the economic needs of sponsors and the career stakes of athletes. But I won’t stand for our governments surrendering all diplomatic leverage. We need a strong symbol to express our political views while not needlessly sabotaging the event. I therefore believe that we should be absent from the official ceremonies, while letting our athletes participate as they see fit. As for the sponsors, I wish them all the negative publicity they deserve.

I witnessed with satisfaction the flame being extinguished and the crowd showing hostility toward the traveling circus. I am grateful toward Reporters Sans Fronti̬res for actively expressing ideas I share with them РI donated to them in the past and I am not disappointed by their enduring passion for press freedom. And I salute the anonymous people of Paris who did not let this propaganda event unfold unopposed.

But I am more than displeased about the way our government handled the event. Was it so difficult to recognize the public mood and choose a low key ? Was it absolutely necessary to push through in force, making the torch convoy a ridiculous police caravan ? And most of all, who did order the police to rip the Tibetan flags and RSF olympic flags away from the hands of those who were waving them ? This is an utter disgrace ! Since when is it illegal to wave a flag in our country ? Do we really have to do the bidding of the Chinese police state ? I am outraged at the attempts of the police, reported by multiple persons along the flame’s path, to remove the flags while the Chinese flags were flying. Not that I care that much about one nation annexing another when the interests of my nation state are not even remotely concerned : my outrage is about freedom of speech in my own country and respect of the law there by its own police force.

I do not know if the governments will listen, but I wish there will be a joint Euro-American action so that the message will be effectively passed while not letting China single out specific countries for retorsion. Once more we dream about the European Union coming of age – but meanwhile let’s hope we can at least coordinate our diplomacy somewhat.

Now we pass the olympic torch to our comrades in San Francisco and beyond… Why should only the Chinese use the relay as a propaganda event ?