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Olympic Torch Relay First Day in Beijing to Last Four Hours with 433 Bearers
    2008-08-05 16:33:02     Xinhua
The Olympic torch on its first-day relay in Beijing will travel 16.4 km in just over four hours with 433 torchbearers, the organizer said on Tuesday.

The relay will start from the Meridian Gate of the Forbidden City on Wednesday morning, said Sun Xuecai, deputy director of the city sport department and deputy chairman of the organizing committee of the Olympic torch relay in Beijing, at a press conference.

The first torch bearer will be Yang Liwei, the country's first astronaut, he said.

At the ceremony to be held at the Meridian Gate, Liu Qi, the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games (BOCOG) president will hand over the Olympic flame to Yang, marking the start of the relay.

On the first of its three-day relay in Beijing, the torch will travel through seven districts, passing city landmarks, including Tiananmen Square, the egg-shaped National Center for the Performing Arts and Qianmen (the Southern Gate). It will end at the Temple of Heaven.

A grand ceremony will be held there. About 1,320 dancers will perform at the ceremony to receive the torch.

Among the bearers, 29 will be foreigners, two from Hong Kong and one from Taiwan, Sun said.

They are made up of both celebrities and ordinary people. Yao Ming, China's most popular basketball star, will be the ninth bearer, he confirmed.

Zhang Yimou, the famed film director and chief director of the Games' opening and closing ceremonies, will also bear the torch on Wednesday.

The torch relay in southwestern Sichuan Province has ended and the flame is on its way to Beijing.

It is supposed to arrive in Beijing at 5 p.m. Tuesday. A simple ceremony will be held at the Beijing airport, Sun said.
 
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