S.F. Mayor Says Olympic Torch Won't Pass Through Chinatown

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Olympic torch likely will not pass through Chinatown when it comes to San Francisco next month on its way to the Beijing Games, Mayor Gavin Newsom said.

The decision was based on the difficulty of planning the torch's
procession through Chinatown's narrow streets, Newsom said
Thursday. The announcement offered the first details about the city's plans for the torch relay scheduled for April 9.

San Francisco is the only North American city to host the torch.

The relay has triggered protests by human rights activists calling for an end to China's heavy handed rule over Tibet. Newsom said no one would be prevented from demonstrating as the torch travels through the city.

It has also caused heated debate among city officials about whether the city should use the event to criticize China's human rights record.

A Board of Supervisors committee heard more than four hours of public testimony Thursday about a proposed resolution calling for public officials to make a statement that the torch is "received with alarm and protest."

The committee ultimately passed a resolution that deleted the criticisms of China, and instead welcomed two other torch events - the Tibetan Freedom Torch and the Global Human Rights Torch.

The supervisor who introduced the original measure said he will try to reintroduce it when the matter comes before the full board on April 2.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-03-21-08 1318EDT

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