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Home > India > News > Report

Olympic torch relay: 'Risk of terrorist attack is low'

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | April 16, 2008 12:54 IST

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Professor Wang Dehua, director and professor Institute of South and Central Asia Studies, Shanghai Center for International Studies, told, "The risks of terrorist, militant, sectarian or civil unrest affecting the Olympic Torch relay on Thursday should be regarded as low to medium."

While echoing the feelings of the people of China for the torch relay event, Professor Wang said, "Harmony is the goal of the Olympic torch relay. China's planned torch relay will be the longest in Olympic history. The Chinese theme of 'harmony' for the relay is opposed to reports of the so-called (Tibetans) unrest.

Ever since Chinese President Hu Jintao advocated the idea of 'building a harmonious society' -- an attempt to tackle myriad domestic problems brought about by China's unrestrained growth -- 'harmony' has become one of the most beloved words in China today, suggesting anything from social stability to world peace. With the Beijing [Images] 2008 Olympics [Images], China is seeking to demonstrate to the world its yearning for harmony."

China's Olympic torch relay is well-planned under the theme 'the Journey of Harmony'.

The longest in Olympic history, the relay will see the torch-bearers transport the Olympic flame across five continents.

However, China's plans have been marred by the widespread protests by Tibetans.

"The route is planned to traverse through an estimated 20 international cities, and 113 more than 100 cities on mainland China, together with a side trip to the peak of Mount Everest [Images] from the Tibet [Images] side. Torch-bearers will carry a scroll-shaped torch adorned with the traditional Chinese xiangyun or lucky cloud that symbolises harmony," Prof Wang said.

While discussing the venues for the torch relay in India and Pakistan, Professor Wang, a highly distinguished expert on India, told, "I think Islamabad and New Delhi are the more ideal venues for the Olympic torch relay. New Delhi is the country's 2nd most populous city and one of the most populous in the world."

According to Professor Wang, 80 torch bearers will carry the Olympic flame in New Delhi -- 57 runners will be from India, five to be  nominated by Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games while 18 will be from the sponsors.

Later on Wednesday, Suresh Kalmadi, president of the Indian Olympics Committee, would be announcing the final programme for Thursday's Olympic torch relay event in New Delhi. 

Discussing via an e-mail interview, Professor Wang said, "The event, which was earlier slated to be held in Mumbai on the same day (April 17), was shifted to Delhi, which will host the 2010 Commonwealth Games mainly because of global route plan and logistical arrangements, The relay will come from Pakistan, so Delhi is better for the route plan and it has broader roads than Mumbai."