TRENTO – Protesters snatched the Olympic torch in Trento.A group of anarchists approached the torchbearer, Italian 1500 metres star Eleonora Berlanda, and snatched the torch from her hands before making off. The international athlete was confronted by eight anarchists carrying a banner and a loudhailer.Four protesters, one of them a woman, grappled with Ms Berlanda, who attempted to resist unsuccessfully.Her struggles allowed the runners escorting the flame to intervene.When one of the attackers managed to wrest the torch, which remained alight, from the athlete’s grasp, he was able to run only a few metresbefore he was stopped with three other anarchists by the escort and police officers.The four were arrested and taken to the police station.The other four demonstrators managed to get away.
RESCUED – The rescued flame was carried to Piazza Duomo twenty minutes late by athletics champion Roberto Moggio.
ITALIAN ATHLETE’S RAGE – “I wasn’t so much frightened as astonished.Attacking the Olympic torch is an absurd gesture that shows crass ignorance.The torch is a universal symbol of peace”?, said an angry Ms Berlanda. “It was a disgraceful attack”?, was the comment on the torch-snatching episode from Valentino Castellani, chair of the Olympic committee TOROC.”I share torchbearer Berlanda’s feelings”?, said Mr Castellani, “and I want to express the solidarity of TOROC and all those who are working to promote sport and Olympic values.Ms Berlanda’s words are the best response to these despicable protests, which have failed to attract support anywhere in Italy”?.
PRECEDENTS – The flame has been the target of demonstrations on other stages of its journey to Turin at Genoa, Iesi, Bologna and Modena.But this is the first time it has been snatched from the grasp of an official torchbearer.