UNTIL LAST week, most disruptions along the Olympic torch route came from activists protesting China's human rights record. But as the torch passed through Canberra, Australia, last Thursday, it was pro- China demonstrators making most of the noise. The 10-mile route was lined with Chinese expatriates who greatly outnumbered the pro- Tibet crowd.
The amount of unrest in the throng of 20,000 depended on whom you asked. Xinhua, the official Chinese press agency, said the run was a festive affair, and the route was "overwhelmed by cheers." But Melbourne's Herald Sun reported that students used the poles of their Chinese flags to beat Tibetan protesters. Police made seven arrests.
The torch then visited Japan and South Korea, where a North Korean defector tried to set himself on fire to disrupt the run. This week a special flame will travel to Mount Everest, where an American climber was forced to leave base camp last week after he was found with a FREE TIBET banner in his bag. But the chances of the torch's ascent turning into a spectacle are slim. Officials have closed the mountain to climbers, curtailed the number of foreign press and will forbid them from reporting on the torch as it leaves base camp for the summit.