By announcing that the Olympic torch will be paraded through Tibet, and that any attempt to impede it will be "severely punished," China has signalled that it wants the torch ceremonies to be curtailed. Because if the torch is carried through Tibet there will be demonstrations. If there are demonstrations there will be deaths. If there are deaths there will be international outrage and withdrawals of individuals and national teams, and the 2008 Games will not be the triumphant showcase China craves.
Whatever happens in San Francisco today, the IOC now has no choice but to intervene and scale down the remaining processional programme - leaving the Chinese protesting vigorously, without loss of face, whilst smiling with relief behind closed doors.