Olympic flame arrives in Australia

April 23rd, 2008 - 8:33 pm ICT by admin  

Canberra, April 23 (Xinhua) The plane carrying the Beijing Olympics flame landed in Canberra Wednesday morning for the torch relay through the heart of the city Thursday. The Air China Airbus A330, carrying the flame from Jakarta, touched down at Fairbairn Airport. Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, Sports Minister Kate Ellis, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates, and Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai were at the airport to receive the sacred flame.

The Airbus is the official Olympic plane that has been travelling around the world with the flame during the torch relay.

Jiang Xiaoyu, vice president of Beijing Organising Committee of Olympic Games, and Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai, carried the flame torch off the plane.

Agnes Shea, an elder woman of the Ngunnawal people, presented the message stick to the Chinese officials.

“I welcome the Olympic torch to Australia in the spirit of peace on behalf of my people, whose history of this places goes back to the beginning of time,” Shea said.

“The words contained within our message stick today are about welcoming our visitors to our country and of the great peace and good fortune for the Beijing Olympic torch relay,” she continued.

Shea spoke of peace through the Olympic movement.

“In this way the torch is the message stick of the Olympic movement. We want the story of the torch while it is in Canberra to be one of peace and understanding. The torch is after all promoting a journey of harmony, may its stay here be one that symbolises good will for all mankind,” she said.

ACT Chief Minister Stanhope said the next 48 hours were an opportunity to address each other as friends do, with respect and honesty.

“An opportunity to showcase the splendour of this capital city of which we Canberrans are so proud,” he said.

“In a robust and mature democracy such as ours there is no particular danger in mixed messages.”

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates said the international journey of the flame was the most ambitious and longest route ever planned for an Olympic torch relay.

Coates said both Australian games - Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000 - were noted for their efficient organisation, the quality of competition and the sense of pervading friendliness.

“In just 107 days, after the flame has completed its awesome journey having covered an impressive 137,000 kilometres, we will see it burning at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games,” he said.

“Australia will be proudly represented by a team of 440 athletes ready to write the next chapter in Australia’s rich Olympic history. I can’t wait.”

Sports Minister Kate Ellis said it was her special duty to welcome the torch and the Chinese guests on behalf of the Australian government.

“Australia has a long tradition not just of participation in the Olympic Games but also a great record of success,” she said.

“The Olympic spirit is a good one that I hope burns brightly both today and tomorrow but, of course, in the Games in Beijing later this year.”

Jiang Xiaoyu thanked the Australian hosts and said Australia has held the Olympic Games and understands the spirit behind them.

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