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Rediff.com  » Sports » Olympics torch relay to resume after mourning

Olympics torch relay to resume after mourning

May 21, 2008 10:47 IST

The Beijing Olympic torch relay will resume on Thursday in the coastal city of Ningbo after three days of national mourning for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake, Xinhua news agency said.

Ningbo, on the southern tip of the Yangtze River Delta, was originally scheduled to host the flame on Monday before the relay was suspended.

There was no mention in the report of how the organisers will make up for the three days lost in the schedule, which plans for the flame to arrive in Beijing two days before the Games open on August 8.

Officials at the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) were not available for comment.

The longest torch relay in Olympic history has not enjoyed a smooth passage around the world, with anti-Chinese demonstrations marring parts of the international stretch and the weather delaying the ascent of Mount Everest.

In the end, however, it was not the Tibet protesters nor the snows of the Himalayas that stopped the Olympic flame, but the earthquake that is already known to have killed more than 40,000 people.

Organisers originally decided to proceed as planned after a minute's silence at the beginning of each day but on Sunday announced the relay would be "put on hold" from Monday to Wednesday.

Jiaxing, also in Zhejiang province, will welcome the torch after Ningbo and if the original schedule is retained, it will then head to Shanghai over the following two days. The relay is also scheduled to visit Sichuan from June 15-18, starting in Guang'an before moving on to the city of Mianyang, close to the epicentre of the quake.

A former deputy editor of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily suggested last week that when the worst of the destruction in Sichuan was cleaned up, the torch should be taken to the epicentre of the 7.9 magnitude quake and relayed from there to Beijing for the Games.

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