Greece Hands China Olympic Torch (Updated)

Update 2 (March 30, 11:52pm, Pacific Time): After arriving encased in glass at the Beijing airport (see below), the Olympic flame was transported to Tian’anmen Square for an official torch lighting ceremony, attended by a conspicuously modest crowd of hand-picked spectators. Liu Xiang, holder of the world record in the men’s 110m hurdles, then carried the flame into the Forbidden City. Video of the torch lighting ceremony on Tian’anmen Square from Sky News via YouTube:

See the BBC report on the ceremony here.

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Update 1: The torch has arrived in Beijing to much fanfare. From The Guardian:

On Monday, the flame was escorted off a plane emblazoned with “Journey of Harmony” and passed to officials in a tightly choreographed display outside a gleaming new airport terminal where groups of children waved Chinese and Olympic flags.

The flame, encased in a lantern, was to be officially welcomed at a ceremony at Tiananmen Square, the focus of democracy protests that were crushed in 1989, where police and plainclothes security men lined streets cordoned off with yellow tape.

…At the ceremony, to be attended by President Hu Jintao, a second flame will be lit and taken to Tibet where an attempt will be made to take it to the top of Mount Everest in early May.

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(Original post, March 30, 9:01AM, Pacific Time):
The Olympic torch has officially been handed over to China from Greece so it can begin its journey around the globe. The BBC reports that pro-Tibet protesters tried to disrupt the handover ceremony in Greece this morning:

A small group of protesters tried to break through a police cordon to enter the stadium.

Thousands gathered as the flame was delivered and transferred to a lamp for its journey by plane to China.

…The flame, which was lit in Olympia on 24 March, will be welcomed at a ceremony in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Monday.

It will then tour 20 countries before returning for the opening on 8 August.

The Chinese government has been working hard to try to ensure that protests do not follow the torch on its highly-publicized trip. In , the only stop for the torch in North America, pro-Tibet and other human rights groups are planning a series of events to highlight their demands, and the local government has said they will place no restrictions on such protests. In response, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. paid a personal visit to Mayor Gavin Newson to discuss the torch’s visit, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

See a map of the torch route, via BBC.

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