Thursday, April 26, 2007


China wants the games to be its showcase to the world. The official route of the Olympic torch for the 2008 Beijing games is due to be revealed later on Thursday.
The flame will be carried to Beijing by a relay of athletes from the site of the ancient Olympics in Greece.
However, speculation about the route has thrown the spotlight on two politically sensitive issues.
Beijing is expected to announce the torch will be carried through Taiwan and Tibet - both of which have controversial ties with China.
The highlight of Beijing's planned relay is to take the torch to the summit of Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain, straddling the border with Tibet and Nepal.
Four US activists were arrested on Everest on Wednesday after unfurling a banner calling for Tibet's independence as Chinese climbers were carrying out relay assessments.
They were still believed to be in detention on Thursday. China said it was investigating the incident and warned foreign citizens against engaging in "activities concerning the sovereignty and unity of China".
While many in self-governed Taiwan are said to be keen to see the torch come to the island, there have reportedly been lengthy negotiations over the details of its delivery.
Some fear that if the torch enters and leaves via Beijing, it will appear to endorse China's view that Taiwan is part of its territory.
The Everest protest highlights some political concerns over the games
"That would undermine Taiwan as a sovereign country," Wang Shu-hui, a Taiwanese MP, said.
Correspondents say the likely compromise will be that the torch arrives in Taiwan from a different country, such as Japan or South Korea and leaves for Hong Kong.
As with previous Olympics, the flame will be lit in Athens several months before the games begins and carried by a series of athletes, celebrities and specially-chosen members of the public to Beijing.
The International Olympic Committee said on Thursday it had approved the route, which will be revealed by Chinese organisers later.



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