BANGKOK, Thailand – Thailand's prime minister said Friday that Thais should be honored the Olympic torch is passing through their country and protesters have no reason to disrupt the relay.
The torch arrived Friday morning under tight security and was quickly whisked to a luxury hotel. Thailand's crown princess was to welcome the flame before its run through Bangkok on Saturday.
Thousands of police and military have been ordered to secure the relay to prevent disruptions from protesters of China's human rights record.
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said his government was certain it can provide adequate security and questioned what any demonstrators could hope to accomplish.
"What good will it do? What's the deal with the torch relay?" he told reporters.
"Why would anyone protest in Thailand? Why don't they protest in China?" he added. "This is a good thing for Thailand. Thai people should be proud.
Protests over China's suppression of Tibetan demonstrations have dogged the torch relay at various stops on its worldwide journey that began at the ancient site of the original Olympics in Greece.
On Friday, a major Japanese Buddhist temple declined to serve as the starting point for the April 26 relay in Nagano, citing safety concerns and sympathy among its monks and worshippers for Tibetan protesters.
A coalition of human rights and other activist groups in Thailand said they would protest outside the U.N.'s Asian headquarters in Bangkok, which is along the planned relay route.
In Nepal, police detained more than 100 Tibetan protesters outside the Chinese embassy's visa office Friday, many of them monks and nuns. Some who resisted detention were kicked and punched.
Up to 2,000 police will guard Saturday's relay, a 6.3-mile run starting in Bangkok's Chinatown and ending at the Royal Plaza.
The route could be changed and shortened at the last minute if protesters try to disrupt it, said Gen. Yuttasak Sasiprapha, president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand.
A police helicopter will follow overhead as police motorcycles ride beside runners. Police vans will also follow along in case the athletes need to jump inside for safety, he said.
Authorities warned that any foreign activists who try to disrupt the event will be deported.
"Supporters of the Tibetan cause have the right to express their views but not to thwart the relay. We will not tolerate that," Yuttasak said.
The torch is scheduled to leave for Malaysia on Saturday night.