Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Hu Qianwen (second from left) passes the Beijing Olympic torch to a torchbearer in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday, April 29, 2008.
Smiles, cheers, screams, applauses everywhere. The Olympic flame underwent a night of great passion in the Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam on Tuesday.
Hundreds of thousands of people flocked into the street, waiting and enjoying the passing of Olympic flame. The Olympic "five-ring" flags, Vietnam flags and Chinese flags laid all over the sidewalk along the route.
Long queues of motorbikes squeezed the intersections longing for a glimpse of the torch relay. Waiters of restaurants suspended work to greet the relay. Thousands of motorists chased the relay to make photos and videos. It's the exact time to celebrate for the whole city. It seems no one would afford to miss the visit of Olympic flame.
The relay, the first hosted by Vietnam, traveled 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the opera house in the city center to the Seventh Military Zone Sports Stadium. Sixty torch bearers from all walks of life participated in the relay.
Torchbearer Nguyen Danh Thai, chairman of Vietnam's Olympic Committee, lights the altar during the ceremony after the Olympic torch relay in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam，April 29, 2008. Ho Chi Minh City is the 19th leg of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay outside the Chinese mainland.
Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, the deputy mayor of Ho Chi Minh city, was the first torch bearer who received the torch from Hu Qianwen, Chinese ambassador to Vietnam, and showcased the flame to the crowd.
"Olympic Games is the most significant sports pageantry in the world. As a torch bearer in Ho Chi Minh city, it's evidently a great honor. But I also feel great responsibility to organize the event well until the latest moment," said Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, who is in charge of the organization.
"I hope we can take the advantage of the relay to demonstrate the love of sports in Vietnam, to show our friendship and hospitality. I also hope the arrival of Olympic flame can stimulate the Vietnamese team to turn out good results in the Beijing Games."
Nguyen Thi Thu Ha explained the relay itinerary and schedule. "In line with the overload of traffic in Ho Chi Minh City, we have to ponder a route ensuring a smooth progress of torch and minimizing the affection on the residents' life. The time from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. just shuns the traffic jam," she said.
Red flags, banners and signs welcoming the torch hung from lampposts along several avenues of the city. It's totally permeated for the city to have a day special and ardency.
The celebration ceremony was staged in the Military Stadium, which is not big enough to seat the large pack of enthusiastic spectators. A huge crowd gathered outside the Stadium until the finish of celebration.
The vice president of BOCOG Li Binghua delivered sincere thanks for the support and ebullience from the local residents and overseas Chinese.
"I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Vietnam people for their active support to the relay. And also the same thanks to the overseas Chinese living and studying here for their attention to the relay," said Li.
"The Olympic torch relay, with the best wishes from China, bridges the gap between different cultures and races, connecting friendships and cooperation."
Vietnam Olympic Committee president Nguyen Danh Thai carried the last torch and lighted the cauldron in the Stadium.
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and is located near the Mekong Delta. The city center is situated on the banks of the Saigon River, 60 kilometers from the South China Sea and 1,760 kilometers south of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.
The metropolitan area, which consists of Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding towns, has more than 9 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in Vietnam
Vietnam is the last international leg of the relay before the flame goes to Hong Kong on Wednesday.