TORONTO [Peter Paul Media] — The Olympic Flame continued its 35,000 kilometre journey Thursday as it entered Nathan Phillips Square as tens of thousands of people gathered along the relay route during its journey.
The flame arrived at the square at about 8 p.m. after being delayed for more than an hour following protests near College and Yonge Streets.
The chants of “no Olympics on stolen native land” by anti-Olympic protesters drew boos from the crowds awaiting the flame along a packed Yonge Street. The flame was diverted west on Wellesley St. off Yonge where it made it safely to the Hospital for Sick Children.
Toronto Police Staff Sgt. Greg Thorpe said the there were about 200 protesters. “I have no idea what their message was, but I can tell you it wasn’t very well received,” he said. Police said at least five people were arrested following the protests.
The protesters were, by far, greatly outnumbered by Olympic supporters.
On Yonge Street near Gloucester, Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar received the Olympic flame as hundreds of people from Toronto’s East Indian community stood by. “I took the subway all the way from Markham just to see him. I wasn‘t disappointed,” said Reena, who didn’t provide her last name.
As the flame arrived at Nathan Phillips Square, the crowd roared with excitement as two-time Olympic champion Vicky Sunohara passed between thousands of cheering supporters. As she arrived on stage with the flame in hand, she raised both her hands in triumph.
She then lit the city’s Olympic cauldron which was followed by the singing of Canada’s national anthem. Free giveaways, music, photo opportunities with an Olympic torch and a spectacular fireworks display kept the thousands in attendance busy for most of the frigid night.
Even after the main event, supporters still entered the square hour-by-hour to join in on the festivities. “I am just here for the fireworks,” said Allan Rombough, who came with his wife.