Kuala Lumpur, Apr.21 : Stifling security marked the 16.5 kilometre-long Olympic torch relay in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
At least 1,000 officers were deployed along the relay route that began at the colonial-era Freedom Square and ended at the Petronas Towers, the world's second-tallest buildings.
About 3,000 spectators, mindful of the official warnings against disrupting the relay, watched the landmark event under warm sunshine. Chinese supporters waved Malaysian and Chinese flags at Freedom Square to cheer the torchbearers.
The entourage was greeted with traditional Malay music and a lion dance performance as police sealed off streets and deployed mounted units, helicopters and water cannons to deter protesters.
On Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy also conveyed a message of sympathy to Jin Jing, a wheelchair-bound Chinese torchbearer who fended off protesters on the Paris leg of the torch, triggering off an anti-France campaign in China.
"I would like to express to you my deep feeling towards the way you were shoved in Paris on April 7 when you were holding the Olympic flame," Xinhua quoted the note from Sarkozy as saying.
Security concerns have prompted changes to the torch route in Japan and caused sponsors to pull out of a motorcade.
The Japanese leg of the Olympic torch relay will kick off from a vacant patch of land in Nagano City on April 26 after the Zenkoji Temple pulled out as host over security concerns and complaints from the faithful.
The three corporate sponsors for the Japanese leg of Saturday's relay -- Coca-Cola, Samsung Electronics, and computer-maker Lenovo Group Ltd -- have decided against taking part in the torch procession's motorcade, which Japanese media said would attract protests.
Eighty torchbearers are expected to jog the 18.5 km route through Nagano. The Olympic flame will now travel to Jakarta on April 22 and then to Canberra on April 24.
The torch is then scheduled to go to South Korea and then to North Korea on April 28 before heading to Vietnam. (ANI with inputs)
Story first published: Monday, April 21, 2008, 17:18 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 21, 2008