From Muscat, Olympic torch heads for Pakistan

April 15th, 2008 - 6:28 pm ICT by admin  

(Olympic Torch Update)
Muscat, April 15 (Xinhua) The Olympic torch was headed for the Pakistani capital Islamabad Tuesday after completing the ninth leg of its global journey in Muscat, ahead of the games to be held in Beijing Aug 8-24. The relay concluded here at the Qurm Natural Park Monday evening. At about 8.30 p.m., the last torchbearer Habib Abdulnabi Macki, vice chairman of the Oman Olympic Committee (OOC), arrived at the floating theatre of the Qurm Natural Park where about 10,000 people had gathered to receive the flame.

Beijing Olympic Mascots ‘Fuwa’ were walking around the park, inviting screams from the people, especially the children. After Macki lit the cauldron, the audience burst into applause.

Fireworks were set off, which traditionally mark only the occasion of the birthday of Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Sayyid Al Mutassim bin Hamoud Al Bousaidi, minister of state and governor of Muscat, addressed the people, saying this event was “an indicator to the extent of the historical relations between Oman and China”.

He expressed the hope that the Beijing games will be the best ever.

International Olympic Council (IOC) president Jacques Rogge, in a written speech, read by Ali Sunaidy, said the Olympic torch relay ‘Beijing 2008′ reflects the noble Olympic values, passing along the “silk route”, across five continents.

He said: “This harmony between the various nationalities, cultures and races express the concept of friendship, peace and perseverance of the Olympic value.”

Muscat was selected among other host cities around the world for its special position on the “silk route”, Rogge said.

Liu Jingmin, vice president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympic games, said the event has witnessed the continuation of the traditional friendship between the two countries.

Sayyid Shihab bin Tareq al Said, advisor to Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said, was the first of the 80 torchbearers.

After 250 meters, he handed the flame over to Sayyid Fatik bin Fahar al Said, under secretary of the ministry of heritage and culture and also a member of the royal family.

The route of the torch relay stretched along the coast, passing Al Alam Palace, old Muscat, Muscat Gate and Mutrah Souq where a break was made.

After the break, the torch relay continued, passing through the Qurm flyover, and reached its destination, the Qurm Natural Park.

Most of the Omani torchbearers were celebrities, such as royal family members, senior officials and sports stars.

The stop in Muscat is the ninth one in the Olympic torch relay outside China’s mainland, and the torch has already toured Almaty, Istanbul, St. Petersburg, London, Paris, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Dar-es-Salaam.

The Olympic flame had arrived in Muscat early Monday from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and will continue its tour in Islamabad.

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