BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentine runners relayed the Olympic torch past fenced-off protesters on Friday, as hundreds of China supporters in red windbreakers tried to reverse weeks of bad publicity for the host of the Summer Games.
Activists opposing China's human rights record unfurled banners and promised "entertaining surprises" but pledged to keep their demonstrations peaceful after protests marred stops in London, Paris and San Francisco.
Hundreds of spectators cheered as Chinese delegates wearing Argentina's blue-and-white lit the torch from a lantern that has carried the flame from the site of the ancient Olympic games in Greece.
Mayor Mauricio Macri held the slender aluminum torch aloft, then passed it to three-time Olympic windsurfing medalist Carlos Espinola, who jogged into Buenos Aires streets flanked by Chinese bodyguards. Heavyset police from Argentina's navy huffed to keep up.
A sea of about 500 China supporters in red windbreakers handed out by organizers waved banners and denounced what they called political interference in the ceremony.
"We are here to celebrate Olympics!" said Shao Long Chen, a 19-year-old Chinese immigrant. "It's a great source of pride for us that the Olympics are being held in Beijing and that the torch is passing through Buenos Aires."
As for the pro-Tibet protesters nearby, he said: "They're using sports to deliver a political message, and that's not right."