San Francisco Braces for Torch Protests

The option emerged one day before the torch was scheduled to be run in San Francisco, which is braced for protests. Activists already climbed the Golden Gate bridge on Monday and unfurled pro-Tibet banners.

IOC President Jacques Rogge told The Associated Press the committee will consider ending the international leg of the torch relay that leads up to this summer's Beijing Olympics.

Rogge told the AP that he was "deeply saddened" by chaotic protests in London and Paris the last two days and is worried about the upcoming torch relay in San Francisco.

The decision could come as early as Friday, when the committee's executive panel meets.

The torch arrived early today at San Francisco's airport a day after pro-Tibetan protests scaled the Golden Gate bridge to unfurl banners ahead of Wednesday's planned torch run.

ABC News has been told that at least one of the relay runners has pulled out of the event, citing safety concerns.

The torch so far has been met with protests in London and Paris where demonstrators tried to extinguish the flame. In Paris, Monday, dozens of protesters jostled with police so persistently that officials were forced several times to make an unprecedented decision to extinguish the flame and halt the procession. The end of the relay was ultimately canceled.

In China, today, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu refused to concede the Paris relay had been marred by protests and cut short, insisting it was "successfully completed." China is also flatly denying reports that the torch or flame was extinguished at any time.

"The holy flame of the Olympics belongs to people worldwide. The disruption and sabotage of the torch relay is a challenge to the Olympic charter and spirit, the world legal system and peace loving people around the world," Jiang told reporters.

Sen. Hillary Clinton called Monday for President Bush to boycott the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. On ABC's "Good Morning America" today, Clinton said, the Olympics are "an international event, not a Chinese event," and said Bush should not have "given away" the option of not attending the ceremony.

But Clinton stopped short of calling for a boycoot of the entire Olympic games."I don't believe that that's the right approach to take. What we're trying to do is influence the Chinese Government. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the moment to put pressure on the Chinese, because they are so concerned about how they will be perceived. " Clinton told "GMA." The traditional Olympic torch relay has never been the target of political protests, experts say.

"Never before has this happened," said Anthony Bykerk, the secretary general of the International Society of Olympic Historians, of the protests surrounding the Olympic torch. "This is the first time that the torch relay has ever been an element of protest -- it's usually a very big celebration."

While protests and political agendas have often come to the forefront during and leading up to Olympics, said Bykerk, the events of the past couple of days — and the San Francisco incident — are especially troubling.

"This is worse because now they are protesting against the torch relay, which has nothing to do with politics but is supposed to be a symbol of unity — not used as protest," said Bykerk. "If these people want to protest against the human rights question in Tibet, they should have done it 50 years ago."

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