Olympic flame arrives in Beijing

March 31st, 2008 - 10:03 am ICT by admin  

Beijing, March 31 (DPA) The Olympic flame arrived Monday in China from Greece and was scheduled to be presented at a closely guarded ceremony in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Before the arrival, China tightened security around the square, and Beijing’s Capital International Airport, seemingly fearing more protests after pro-Tibet demonstrators attempted to disrupt the handover ceremony Sunday in Greece.

The Beijing Olympic organizing committee (BOCOG) cited less space because of “security reasons” when it excluded 24 foreign media organizations from the arrival ceremony despite confirmed accreditations for the event.

Chinese officials have been tight-lipped about the timetable for the Tiananmen ceremony.

The International Olympic Committee, which begins an inspection tour of Beijing Monday, has come under growing criticism from human-rights groups to pressure China to improve its human rights situation.

The Olympic torch will be carried from Beijing on a domestic and international relay that will pass through 20 countries.

The relay culminates in the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony Aug 8 in Beijing’s National Stadium.

Protestors are angry at China’s crushing of unrest in Tibet earlier this month and its plans to take the torch through Tibet and to the top of Mount Everest.

Tibetan activists accuse Beijing of using the site to convey a false message of harmony in the troubled Himalayan region. Chinese troops have occupied Tibet since 1951.

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