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Should Will.i.am have carried Olympic Torch through Taunton? The debate rumbles on...

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: June 13, 2012

Will.i.am's Olympic Torch appearance in Taunton is still creating controversy, three weeks on

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Three weeks on from 'that' appearance in Taunton, the debate about rapper Will.i.am's credentials for carrying the Olympic Torch still rumbles on.

The Black Eyed Peas star was a special guest torchbearer when the Olympic Torch Relay arrived in the Somerset town last month, and was cheered on by thousands as carried the flame through the town centre.

At the time, the American's involvement was criticised in the national media - because he isn't British, and also because he was using Twitter on his mobile phone while running with the torch.

This week his Taunton appearance has been brought back into the spotlight amid a row over the number of foreign torchbearers chosen to carry the Olympic Torch on its route across the whole of the UK.

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This week, The Sun criticised Olympic chiefs by reporting that 485 foreigners have been invited to carry the flame and that, on some legs, as many as 20 per cent of torchbearers are from overseas.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake was quoted in the article as saying: “It is astonishing that after UK taxpayers have contributed so much, so few local people have been rewarded with the chance to bear the torch.”

Last week, Will.i.am also appeared at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert, which was questioned by this Daily Mail article.

"Quite why he was chosen for the task (carrying the Olympic Torch) is something of a mystery," the Daily Mail reported.

"What’s more, he spent much of his 300m run with the flame staring at his phone as he sent out messages on Twitter to his fans — one of which thanked Coca-Cola. Another misspelled the Somerset town ‘Taurton’."

The rapper's Taunton appearance has been defended by at least one high-profile fan this morning.

Singer Cheryl Cole told Capitalfm.com today that the Black Eyed Peas star was 'an honorary Brit'.

She said: "I heard a couple of people say, 'He's not British', but it's not about that.

"The Olympics, we're inviting people from all over the world to come and race or do whatever their part is in the Olympics in our country, everybody is welcome, so that's (the criticism) not right."

She continued: "He thoroughly enjoyed it. He carried that torch everywhere – he had it on The Voice. He's obsessed with it. I think he's an honorary Brit."

What do you think? Should Will.i.am have been chosen to carry the Olympic Torch through Taunton? Have your say by registering and leaving a comment below, or by voting in our poll at the top right of the screen.

The following video of Will.i.am carrying the Olympic Torch through Taunton was shared on YouTube by itnnews...

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  • supertony731  |  June 14 2012, 3:43PM

    At least he didn't pay to earn his place. Isn't that what some mega-rich businessmen have done for the 'honour' of carrying the torch?

  • uptheport  |  June 14 2012, 12:40PM

    Good post from Purpleshoes, it backs up what I thought about making it even more memorable for the people involved. And it certainly put Taunton in the spotlight!

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  • purpleshoes21  |  June 14 2012, 8:19AM

    My mum ran with the Torch in Taunton - her and the other Torch Bearers spent the day with Will.I.Am on the couch - it added the cherry on top of a fantastic day. So what if 485 foreigners ran with the torch - thats a tiny number when you consider there is 8000 people running with the torch, all of whom are inspirational people, most of whom are normal everyday people but who have done something extrodinary. Whether they are injured soldiers, children who've made a difference, a grandma who never stops or a person whose great a sport they get there moment to shine, they finally feel the thanks that they deserve even if they think they don't deserve it. If that means as an added bonus getting to meet someone famous from America - but is on British telly all the time then so be it. Will.I.Am is the only celebrity I've seen show off his torch, gone wow, it was amazing, and truly felt honered to carry it. I hate twitter but it's modern day just as much as celebrities - even if the young children don't know who he is the older ones will, the teenage ones definatly will and it adds a power to the day, they won't forget it.

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  • cardinal_sin  |  June 13 2012, 4:22PM

    That's a bit harsh. Cheryl Cole isn't talentless - she's got a good right hook...!!

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  • nigant  |  June 13 2012, 3:58PM

    Not sure what he has to do with sport or Somerset. I think it should have been people local to the area, sportsmen or women or people who have achieved great feats of heroism. There are a great many soldiers in the area who have suffered terrible injuries on our behalf, they could have been selected. It just seems like celebrity, celebrity and more of the same. They get paid a lot of money for what they do, some not worth it, so why promote them even more? Also, I don't think a talentless person like Cheryl Cole has any say in the matter and I doubt if the children will know who he was, I doubt he will be remembered that far down their future paths. Pop stars are transitory and quickly forgotten, in some cases not soon enough! Real people, who do real things for the sake of others please! Why on earth is this country so obsessed with celebrity, most of them are not any good at anything and are terrible role models to the young!

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  • cardinal_sin  |  June 13 2012, 2:02PM

    As long as she (Cheryl Cole) wasn't singing. Her speaking voice is bad enough. I'm surprised if Will.i.am can understand a word she utters......most Americans cannot.

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  • johnskipper  |  June 13 2012, 1:40PM

    There is no debate to be had. Cheryl Cole has spoken. Case closed.

  • uptheport  |  June 13 2012, 1:36PM

    Agreed! I can understand why people want it to be deserving people from the community to carry the torch. But on the other hand, the torch relay is meant to be a once-in-a-lifetime event and, for a lot of the kids, that was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Will.i.am in Taunton. It makes it even more memorable for them, so can't be a bad thing. Can it?

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  • cardinal_sin  |  June 13 2012, 12:20PM

    At least he wasn't singing!

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