The organizers of the 2008 Olympic Games have announced that they will
recruit 21,880 torchbearers for the torch relay, making it the biggest in the
The recruitment drive for the bearers kicked off this weekend.
Former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch (L) and He
Zhenliang, chairman of the IOC's Commission for Culture and Olympic
Education, hold up a torch for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Sunday at
the opening ceremony of the World Olympic Collectors Fair in Beijing.
People will have two ways to become torchbearers, according to the
recruitment plan for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: by being recommended by an
authorized organization or institution or through an open selection process.
Among the organizations and institutions tipped to recruit torchbearers are
mainland local governments, the Chinese Olympic Committee, the Beijing Torch
Relay Presenting Partners, the Olympic Family, cities located along the relay
route and Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad
"The selection of the Beijing 2008 Olympic torchbearers will be open to
common people," said Zhang Ming, director of the Torch Relay Center. "Anyone who
meets the selection criteria could have a shot at holding the Olympic flame."
Zhang said BOCOG had set no limits on the gender, career, nationality or
health of the participants, though they would have to be older than 14.
Five percent of torchbearers on the Chinese mainland can be foreigners.
People with disabilities are welcome to take part.
In addition, 5,000 escort runners will be selected from colleges and
universities on the Chinese mainland.
Chinese Taipei can also kick off its selection of 120 torchbearers for the
Beijing Olympic torch relay if it returns to the written agreement reached by
Beijing organizing committee and Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, officials
"As far as BOCOG is concerned, the passing of the Olympic flame through
Taipei has been defined by BOCOG and the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee," said
Jiang Xiaoyu, executive vice-president of the Beijing organizing committee.
"We hope they will not be influenced by artificial factors and return to the
written agreement made by both sides and validated by the International Olympic
The deadline for submitting torchbearer applications is October 31. BOCOG
will make the final selections by the end of this year.
Soon after the recruitment drive was announced, Lenovo nominated the first
group of torchbearers. They included Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, world figure
skating champions; Pu Cunxin, a famous actor and an ambassador for many public
service campaigns; and Wang Shunyou, a postman from a mountainous part of
Southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The Beijing Olympic flame will be lit in March in Greece before kicking off
its 130-day journey, which will cover 137,000 km, including the world's highest
peak, Mount Qomolangma.