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Ravi Shastri to run with Olympic torch in Muscat

By Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Last updated on: April 14, 2008 01:02 IST
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"I will be running as a sportsman," said Ravi Shastri, cricketer and former manager of Team India, while talking to on his low-key participation in the Olympics Torch relay in Muscat, Oman on April 14.

He refused to speak on the controversial issue of the Chinese crackdown in Tibet and the protests that have marred the Olympic torch relay in London, Paris and San Francisco.

Shastri is representing theĀ "sports of cricket and Indian cricketers," according to a member of the Indian community in Muscat, who was instrumental in inviting him for the ceremony.

"People in Oman have a clear view that one should not mix politics and sports. We expect a safe journey for the torch. There are no chances of trouble," Sunil Vaidya, a senior journalist based in Muscat, told According to Vaidya, Shastri was invited by Oman Olympic Committee (OOC).

On Saturday a senior official of the OOC said that his country is ready for the upcoming Beijing Olympic torch relay in Muscat.

The Olympic flame will arrive in Muscat - on its ninth leg of the global journey - in the early morning on April 14 from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Habib Macki, vice chairman of the OOC, told a Chinese news agency that Oman is a safe country with a harmonious society, stressing that the organisers have taken necessary measures to secure the process of the torch relay. Muscat is the only Arab city where the torch will be traveling.

According to the OOC the starting point of the torch relay is at Al Bustan roundabout in the eastern part of the coast city, where lies a replica of an ancient Omani wooden boat that sailed to China more than 1,000 years ago.

A daily in China said that, "the wooden dhow visited China in 1981 after a voyage of eight months which finally reached Guangzhou, a harbor city in southeast China. According to the report, the dhow, which is called Sohar or Sinbad by the locals, is a must-visit place for locals and tourists to Muscat since it was modeled on the ancient one that Sinbad, a hero sailor in the Arab tales One Thousand and One Nights, steered and visited China about 1,000 years ago."

According to a senior officer of OCC 80 prominent personalities will be running with the Olympic torch, 53 of which are selected by OCC.

Shastri was also invited by OOC because when India first played cricket against Oman in 1992, Shastri was a member of the then Indian team. He has a good relationship with the cricket establishment in Oman.

Around 4 lakh people of Indian origin living in Muscat are giving huge support for the development of cricket in Oman.

When Kankashi Khimji, local community leader and sports supporter called Shastri, he agreed to participate in the Olympic Torch relay event "without battling an eyelid."

Shastri said on arrival that, "Sports bring people together." He gave the example of India and Pakistan.

Tomorrow, the hero will be Gulam Khamis, football player of the yesteryears. In 80s he was the 'Maradona' of Oman and was immensely popular.

Because of high blood sugar his right toe has been amputated, but still he wants to run with the Olympic torch. OCC has made an arrangement to help him run the last leg of the stretch.

Shastri is likely to keep a low-key in view of the controversy it can generate back home.

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