Olympic torch relay's Beijing leg rescheduled
The Beijing leg of the worldwide Athens Olympic torch relay has been rescheduled one day later from the original date of June 8, to avoid collision with the national collegiate entrance exams.
The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) announced on Wednesday that a total of 148 torch bearers will carry the torch throughout Beijing on June 9. The torch arrives in the Chinese capital on June 8, the fifth stop of the first truly global relay in the Olympic history.
"The schedule change for the Beijing torch relay has been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Athens organizers," BOCOG vice-president Jiang Xiaoyu told reporters. "This ensures that no high school graduates be jammed on their way to sites for their national collegiate entrance exams."
A ceremony will be held and a documentary film will be shot at the Mutianyu sector of the Great Wall, when the flame arrives in Beijing from Seoul on June 8, according to Zhang Ming, Deputy Director of BOCOG's Culture and Ceremonies Department.
"Beijing, as the host city of the next Olympic Games in 2008, has been chosen to be the fifth stop of the 34-cities torch relay routes, and the torch will remain for two days, as compared to the one-day stays in other cities," said Zhang.
At 9:00 AM on June 9, the first torchbearer, whose name has yet been released, will initiate the relay from the north gate of the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing.
The torch will then pass along a well-schemed route, which includes three urban and two suburban districts of the Chinese capital to showcase its resplendent culture and modern charm.
Along the 55km route, the Olympic torch travels past a host of such symbolic sites as the Temple of Heaven, the Central Business District (CBD) and Hutong (urban lanes) in the traditional residential areas, before reaching the destination of the Summer Palace at 6:00 PM. The last torchbearer will ignite a ceremonial cauldron at the scenic resort spot for a 60-minutes party to mark the two-day event.
After Beijing, the Olympic torch will be airlift to New Delhi, India.
The international part of the longest ever Olympic torch relay, starting on June 4, will travel a 78,000 kilometers past five continents, with a total of 3,600 torchbearers and 11,000 runners involved. During the relay, the Olympic torch will visit South America and Africa for the first time.