China wants Games torch on Mt.Qomolangma
China has high hopes for the 2008 Olympic Games -- 8,848 meters (8,850 meters to the west) high, to be exact.
Beijing is investigating how to haul the Olympic torch to the peak of Mount Qomulangma and broadcast the event live during the pre-Games torch relay, a senior Olympics official said on Thursday.
"It depends on the weather at the time and on when it will happen," said Liu, who is also vice mayor of Beijing. China was scheduled to submit a route plan for the relay to the International Olympic Committee by the end of 2006.
The relay of the "flame of peace" has become a spectacle. Ahead of the Athens games in 2004, it circled the world on a six-week tour under tight security, flying from country to country in a specially chartered jumbo jet, dubbed Zeus.
Logistically, taking the flame to the highest point on Earth is not a big problem, he said.
"Going up may not be too complicated, but filming the whole thing will be very complex," he added.
In 1999, China took a ceremonial flame to the top of Qomulangma, which straddles the China-Nepal border, during a sports competition among China's ethnic minorities.
"The torch is not a problem," Liu said.
Broadcasting the images live is another story, though.
Travel on yakback
The cost of transporting the gear up just the middle reaches on yaks was 200,000 yuan ($24,170), Xinhua news agency reported.
Liu said no decision had yet been made about who would carry the torch up the mountain, but he noted that most torch bearers in the past had been local.
"Not everyone can climb Qomulangma," he added.
"In Nepal there is an ethnic group for whom climbing Mount Qomulangma is as easy as eating breakfast. Maybe we'll go up with them."
Liu added that China also hoped the flame could pass through Taiwan.
"We hope it goes there," he said. "Taipei has given Beijing a lot of support in our application for and preparations for the Olympics, so of course we can enjoy this honor with the Taiwanese people."
Taiwan takes part in the Olympic Games under the name Chinese Taipei.
Beijing's original plan for the torch relay was a "New Silk Road" concept, bringing it from Athens to China via Rome, the Arab world and South Asia, Liu said.
But instability in some areas may be a limitation.
"As you know, there are also some places along that route that are not so safe. How could we carry the torch in an armored vehicle?" he said.