[From the Hindustan Times]

Just as in San Francisco, the security operation began as soon as the torch, the symbol of the Beijing Games, arrived at Buenos Aires international airport on Thursday. It was whisked away on a bus escorted by dozens of police cars and motorbikes.

A senior official in Argentina’s sports ministry, Francisco Irarrazaval, said the torch and the flame were taken to a central hotel where its 140-strong traveling entourage would be staying.

He said he believed the torch would run into a lesser storm of protest against China and its role in Tibet than in earlier legs, noting that “Buenos Aires is a city less compromised by the Tibet issue.”

While Argentina’s status as a democracy meant “it’s permitted to protest,” he stressed the relay was above all “a sporting event.”

It is the first time the Olympic torch has ever been to Argentina, and it will carried on its 13-kilometer (eight-mile) course through the capital by 80 athletes, celebrities and Games sponsors representatives.

Authorities hope to avoid the violent scuffles seen in the relay legs in London and Paris, and the bizarre scene in San Francisco on Wednesday, when a massive police presence and sudden route change made the torch all but invisible to the public.

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