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Press release on the worldwide Beijing Olympic Torch Relay

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Press release on the worldwide Beijing Olympic Torch Relay
Scene of the press conference

(BEIJING, April 7) -- At 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 7, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) held a press conference at the Beijing Olympic Media Center to give an update on the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay.

Under the theme of "Journey of Harmony," the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay started its worldwide journey on April 1, 2008. The sacred flame has so far passed through Almaty in Kazakhstan, Istanbul in Turkey, St. Petersburg in Russia and London in Britain. People along the Torch Relay route have extended the flame a warm welcome and the relay is proceeding successfully as planned.

Firstly, the countries on the relay route have attached great importance and given strong support to the Olympic flame. At the first stop of the relay, the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, attended the commencement ceremony and delivered a speech. He then ran as the first torchbearer. Seeing the Olympic Torch Relay as a way to support the Beijing Olympics and to rehearse for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the city of St. Petersburg attached great importance to the event and used first-rate resources to facilitate a successful relay.

During the London leg of the relay, Prime Minister Gordon Brown held a welcoming ceremony at No. 10 Downing Street and met with British torchbearers. Princess Anne and the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London attended and spoke at the celebration ceremony that ended the day's events.

Secondly, all Torch Relay cities have given strong support for the event. At each stop of the Olympic Torch Relay, the city's local government has held a grand welcoming ceremony and various celebrations. These cities have designed elaborate relay routes that have demonstrated the unique features of their respective cultures and landscapes. They have all provided first-class organizational, security and logistic support for the success of the relay.

Thirdly, the Olympic torch has received a warm welcome worldwide. During the Almaty leg of the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay on April 2, 2008, over 200,000 citizens filled the streets to welcome the sacred flame in an atmosphere that was friendly and passionate. In Istanbul, people wore their best outfits as they came out to witness the Torch Relay. Seventy-thousand people celebrated the arrival of the Olympic flame on the streets of St. Petersburg. Although it was cold in London, with the temperature at zero degrees Celsius, more than one thousand Londoners from all walks of life participated in the launching ceremony of the London leg of the Torch Relay. London artists gave brilliant performances amid snow; passionate crowds lined the relay route.

Fourthly, athletes from all over the world have joined the Beijing Olympic torch relay with great enthusiasm. "The torch for me is not, therefore, simply about a relay around London, it is a moment where the Olympics comes to the front of everyone's mind and we celebrate the dedication of the young athletes who train day in, day out to get to the games," said five-time Olympic rowing gold medalist Sir Steve Redgrave in the Guardian. "The torch relay gives the opportunity for people from all walks of life to touch the Olympics, to feel the dream. The games are an experience like no other, but only a few people get to go and experience their magic."

The first four legs of the Torch Relay have attracted more than 100 athletes; all of them are outstanding representatives who have participated in the Summer or Winter Olympic Games. The first torchbearer of Istanbul was the first Turkish ice skater to participate in the Winter Games. The Olympic flame stands for peace, love and friendship, representing the common dreams and desires of human beings. It deserves the respect of the whole world.

Press release on the worldwide Beijing Olympic Torch Relay
Wang Hui, director of BOCOG Media and Communications department

Fifthly, the torch has been carried through a variety of means that reflect the history, culture, scenery and passion of the countries it's visited. The Torch Relay in Almaty started from Medeo Mountain and torchbearers carried the flame while skiing and while riding motorcycles, horses and camels. In Istanbul, the Olympic torch was twice carried across the Bosporus Strait, which runs between Asia and Europe. On its journey through London, the torch was carried on foot, on an open-topped double-decker bus and by light railway past some of London's most iconic spots. Furthermore, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay has received great support from each National Olympic Committee, as well as enthusiastic reports worldwide from the media.

There have been attempts made to disturb and sabotage the Torch Relay by a small number of "pro-Tibet independence" activists.

The Olympic Torch Relay embodies the Olympic spirit and represents the earnestness and excitement with which the world awaits the Olympic Games. A small number of "pro-Tibet independence" activists have attempted to sabotage the event. During the Greece leg of the relay, a few activists attempted to stop the relay by lying on the street. In London, a few protesters planned and carried out several destructive actions. One "pro-Tibet independence" activist tried to grab the torch and another attempted to extinguish the flame when well-known U.K. television presenter Konnie Huq was carrying the torch in northwest London. Their actions were stopped by local police, although Konnie Huq sustained a slight injury. During a lunch break, several "pro-Tibet independence" activists got past security in an attempt to clash with torchbearers and disturb the relay. The British police were successful in preventing these efforts.

Local people in London strongly opposed the attempt to sabotage the Torch Relay. And the behavior of "pro-Tibet independence" activists has aroused resentment and received condemnation in London.

As the highest symbol of the Olympic spirit, the Olympic flame represents peace, friendship and progress. Under the authorization of the International Olympic Committee, the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay is sharing the passion and glory of the Olympics with the world through its "Journey of Harmony." It has received a warm welcome from people throughout the Relay.

We strongly condemn the actions of the few "pro-Tibet independence" activists who have attempted to sabotage the Olympic Torch Relay. The Olympic flame belongs to the world and these actions are a serious violation of the Olympic spirit. They are bound to fail and will surely arouse the resentment of peace-loving people who support the Olympic Games.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is not only a great event for the Chinese people, but also a great event for the world. It is important in spreading the Olympic spirit, promoting Olympic culture and furthering the development of the Olympic Games. The Beijing Olympic Games not only enhances China's understanding of the world, but it also enhances the world's understanding of China. It deepens the friendship between countries, promoting peace, development and cooperation around the world.

All cities of the Olympic Torch Relay, both on and outside the mainland of China, have made full preparations and have laid a solid foundation for the smooth completion of the Torch Relay. BOCOG would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the Torch Relay cities for the efforts they have made and to the people who have participated in the event. We believe that the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay will receive the support of peace-loving people around the world and be a great success!

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Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
August 8-24, 2008

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