As the Olympic flame relay continued on its course, members of the flame holding relayers were being surrounded by men dressed in blue tracksuits. Many Londoners wondered exactly who were the men whose aggressive manner of shoving aside protestors indicated they possessed some form of official authority. Each time protestors ran to grab the torch, the men in blue intervened and created a cordon around the relayers. Offcially, they are termed, “flame attendants” who are employed by the Beijing Olympic Committee which orgnized the entire relay process. Their job is ensuring the flame never goes out, but, in case it does, they are responsible for relighting the torch and sending it on its merry way.
Although British police officials insist the men in blue lack authority in their country, the behavior of the flame guardians on the streets of London demonstrated they did possess some power to shove people out of the way and perform very aggressively in defense of the flame. Matt Whitticase, of Free Tibet UK, believes the British government has caved into Chinese demands they be allowed to protect the torch in their own manner.