Today’s news coverage of the Olympic torch run in San Francisco has made a big deal of the protests, of course, but also of the torch run: interviewing torch carriers, talking about people who planned their vacations around the torch run in SF — even people who had flown in just for the day, for the torch run. And no, they weren’t all Chinese-Americans.
In 2002, when the torch for the Salt Lake City Olympics came through Oakland, I went to see it, and the story was very different. I had trouble finding out the route — not because of security concerns, but just lack of PR. I went to 51st Street in Oakland, and hung around with a handful of people, waiting for the torch. When it came, it had a small escort, and again only a handful of people watching. There was a handoff from one carrier to another near me, and both, as I recall, were developmentally disabled people.