Olympic flame to be in Beijing in June
The Olympic flame will reach Beijing's landmarks like the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall for the first time during the torch relay for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games which starts next month, Beijing Olympic organizers said Wednesday.
The Beijing leg of the worldwide relay -- which will also take the flame to Africa and South America for the first time in history -- has been rescheduled to June 9, to avoid conflicts with the national collegiate entrance examination.
"We made the decision after careful discussion with the Athens Olympic organizing committee," said Zhang Ming, deputy director of the culture and ceremonies department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.
"Besides reducing the impact on the examination, I think we should give youngsters like the high-school students a chance to get involved in the Olympic movement," Zhang said.
The flame, which will arrive in China's capital from Seoul in the early morning of June 8, will then be carried to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall where a ceremony will be held and a documentary filmed.
A day later, a total of 148 torch bearers will carry the torch throughout the city, crossing Xicheng, Dongcheng, Chongwen, Chaoyang and Haidian districts, the city's the most populated and prosperous regions.
The bearers, aged between 14 to 73, include singers, sports stars, ordinary citizens and government officials.
After an eight-hour journey of more than 50-kilometres , the torch, to be lit at the gate of the Great Hall of the People, will reach the Summer Palace where the last torch bearer will ignite a ceremonial cauldron before a 60-minute celebration.
Along the route, the Olympic torch will past a host of such symbolic sites such as the Temple of Heaven, the Central Business District, hutongs, universities and construction sites of the Olympic venues built for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Beijing is the fifth stop of the 78,000-kilometre global relay which will cover 34 cities in 27 countries. Beijing, the next Olympic host city, is the only city where the flame will stay for two days.
The flame will be passed to New Delhi and is scheduled to return to Athens on July 9.