Chinese students to escort Olympic flame

April 15th, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) Over a dozen Chinese college students are expected to act as escorts for the Olympic flame when the torch comes here Thursday from Islamabad, but no decision has yet been taken on involving Chinese security personnel, an official source said. “Negotiations are still on between the Indian and Chinese sides on the details of the security arrangement for the torch relay,” the source told IANS.

Beijing has proposed 16 of its own security personnel guard the torch procession, but New Delhi is not keen to involve them. A decision on this issue is likely to be taken Tuesday night, the source said.

India has made it clear to China that ensuring security of the Olympic torch in the country is its responsibility.

It has also conveyed that, being a democracy, it can’t stop Tibetans from holding protests, but will ensure that they do not come anywhere close to the torch procession.

Chinese personnel formed part of the security cover for the torch relay legs through Paris and London, which were disrupted by pro-Tibet protesters.

China is anxious about the safety of the New Delhi leg of the Olympic torch relay, especially after Tibetan activists infiltrated the Chinese embassy compound following the reported crackdown on Tibetan protesters in Lhasa last month.

The relay here was originally slated to be from the Red Fort to India Gate. The route has been truncated from nearly nine kilometres to a little over two kilometres. It will now start at Rashtrapati Bhawan and end at India Gate, in the heart of the capital.

Protests by Tibetans against the Chinese crackdown in Tibet and the attempts at disruptions in London and Paris have forced the Indian government and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to make changes in both the route as well as the people to be invited for the relay.

The IOA has kept the list of sportspersons and celebrities who will take part in the Olympic Torch relay in the capital Thursday a closely guarded secret.

IOA president Suresh Kalmadi is expected to announce the names of the runners on the eve of the relay.

Initially, some 80 names were selected for the run, but uncertainty over the route and security concerns made some of the sportsmen and women excuse themselves.

The list has now been pruned to almost half the original 80. Some names still doing the rounds include those of cricket stars Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar, as well as film star Aamir Khan. The runners are expected to include brand ambassadors of sponsors of the Beijing Olympics, like Samsung, Lenovo and Coca Cola.

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