The torch of the 2008 Olympic Games will be carried over the world's highest mount Qomolangma at a "suitable" date in May, 2008, Beijing organizers said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the symposium on Olympic torch relay, Sun Weijia, spokesman for the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG), said BOCOG has made a preliminary schedule for the remarkable torch relay.
"We shall choose a right time under favorable weather conditions to accomplish the mission," said Sun.
According to the plan, the torch is expected to reach the peak of Qomolangma from the southern slope before the mountaineers carry it down along the northern slope.
Preparation efforts for the relay race are already under way, said Sun.
"We're going to select around 80 climbers aged 18 to 23 later this year," he said. "From then on, they will undergo specialized training for torch relay on mountains."
Beijing has promised in its bidding reports that the holy fire of the Olympics will reach the world's highest peak. A Chinese mountaineering team has scaled Mount Qomolangma in May this year, which was seen as a trial of the relay.
"We shall have a rehearsal in the same season in 2007 so that we can gain experiences for the torch relay," added Sun.
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Steven J. McCarthy, international torch relay director for the 2004 Athens Olympics, said he was not surprised that Beijing organizers came up with the idea of making Mount Qomolangma a site on the 2008 Olympic torch relay route.
"I'm not surprised at all ... and they (the Chinese) are so creative about what they do. They can make everything happen in this country," J. McCarthy told Xinhua on the sideline of a symposium on the Olympic torch relay in Beijing.
Beijing has promised in its bidding reports that the holy fire of the Olympics will reach the world's highest peak. According to the 2008 Olympics organizers' plan, the torch will reach the peak of Qomolangma from the southern slope before the mountaineers carry it down along the northern slope.
Di Henry, who was in charge of organization of the torch relay for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, also expressed her favor with the idea.
"It's fantastic, very, very fantastic," said Henry.
Henry, however, said the weather might be a problem to the "ambitious" plan.
"It's not just about having good mountaineers. It also need a good day, the weather," she said. "It may need a longer time to prepare than previous Olympics.
(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2003)