Olympic torch arrives in NaganoApril 25th, 2008 - 12:41 pm ICT by admin
Tokyo, April 25 (DPA) The Beijing Olympics torch flame safely arrived in the Japanese host city of Nagano Friday after completing its relay in Australia. Upon receiving a welcome applaud and cheers at the Haneda airport, the flame, stored in a lantern, was transported in a bus and arrived at a hotel in the central Japanese city of Nagano with about 130 Chinese Olympic committee members.
Non-violent protests were already witnessed when some Japanese demonstrators waved Tibetan national flags to the Chinese staff members at a stopover on a freeway to Nagano city.
Eighty runners are expected to carry the flame Saturday through an 18.7-kilometre route in the city that hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics.
For the safety and security of the sacred flame, the Nagano torch relay committee decided Wednesday to ban general public from the torch lighting and closing ceremonies.
The city has already seen an influx of pro-Tibet protestors, right-wing activists and Chinese exchange students to observe the flame as it passes through the city.
Reporters Without Borders secretary general Robert Menard was expected to arrive in Japan Friday afternoon for a peaceful protest against China’s crackdown on Tibetan people.
The Buddhist Zenkoji Temple, Nagano city’s main landmark, refused last week to host Saturday’s opening ceremony as its monks expressed sympathy and solidarity with Tibet’s monks.
The temple instead plans to hold a memorial service Saturday to mourn the victims of last month’s anti-China unrest in Tibet.
Following the protests in Paris, London and San Francisco, Japanese police have increased security for the torch relay, with more than 3,000 officers expected on the streets to protect the flame.
More than 100 police officers and Olympic committee members from China are to accompany the torch during the run, breaking the sight lines of the roadside spectators in Nagano.
The flame is to be transported to Seoul after Nagano.
Its passage around the globe has been met at times with disruptions by protestors objecting to China’s actions in suppressing demonstrations in Tibet last month.
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