Indonesia braces for Olympic torch, cut short relay

April 21st, 2008 - 10:39 pm ICT by admin  

Jakarta, April 21 (DPA) Indonesian authorities are bracing themselves for the arrival of the Olympic torch and will bar members of the public from directly watching the flame relay at a Jakarta sports stadium, officials said Monday. It would be the first time for Indonesia to host the torch relay of the Olympic Games, officials said.

The Olympic torch is expected to arrive at Jakarta’s Halim Perdanakusumah military airport shortly after Monday midnight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

It will be transported to the Shang-rila Hotel in downtown Jakarta where it will remain until midday Tuesday.

A total of 80 torch bearers, including Indonesian athletes, cabinet ministers and celebrities will take part in the relay Tuesday, which was scheduled to start at 3 pm (0800 GMT), said Rita Subowo, the chairwoman of the Indonesian National Sport Committee.

Sumohadi Marsis, the head of the organizing committee, told a press conference that the route of the relay had been shortened and would only take place on the streets outside Jakarta’s Bung Karno sport stadium.

Initially, the Olympic flame was to travel through the centre of Jakarta and end up in the Bung Karno Sports Complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta.

Marsis said some 2,000 police officers would be deployed to safeguard the torch relay, adding that members of the public “will be barred.”

Only about 5,000 invitees and those who bear ID-cards will be allowed to enter the stadium to watch the seven-kilometre-long relay.

Organizers said the decision to limit the number of spectators was taken after pressure from the Chinese embassy, out of fear of possible anti-China protests.

“We do hope that the Olympic torch relay will be smooth,” Marsis said.

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