Crowds greet Olympic torch traveling through France under tight security

France © Maxime Le Pihf/Paris 2024/SIPA press via AFP
© Maxime Le Pihf/Paris 2024/SIPA press via AFP

After landing in Marseille and being carried down the Cote d'Azur and Provence this weekend, the Olympic torch is going through the Aveyron and Herault departments Monday, surrounded by security that the Interior Minister says has already shut down two dozen “actions” that would have disrupted the flame's journey towards Paris.

Members of the Sentinelle army force were stationed on the Millau viaduct for the passage of the torch Monday morning, as thousands of people turned out to see it carried across the world's tallest bridge.

As the torch made its way through town, police shut down a pro-Palestinian protest group, according to the Midi Libre newspaper.

The Olympic flame has its own security detail of 115 police officers, which Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Sunday had averted “23 actions aimed at disturbing the successful proceedings” of the torch relay since the start of last week.

As the torch travels through over 400 cities across France in the hands of over 100,00 people before it arrives in Paris in time for the Games' opening ceremony in July, the government wants to avoid any incident like in 2008, when a protester disrupted the torch's passage through Paris on its way to the Beijing Olympics, to denounce China's policy in Tibet.

Several environmental NGOs are calling for a demonstration when the flame goes through Toulouse on Friday to denounce ArcelorMittal, the steel company that manufactured the torch, which they say is using its sponsorship of the Games to distract from its environmental pollution in Africa or South America.

The torch is due to go through the Pyrénées-Orientales region on Wednesday, after a detour through Corsica on Tuesday.