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Olympic Torch to Scale Mt. Everest
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Beijing will rehearse this year for the 2008 Olympic torch relay at the world's highest peak, Mt. Qomolangma (Mt. Everest), an official from the Beijing Organizing Committing for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) said in Beijing on Tuesday.


Liu Jingmin, deputy mayor of Beijing and vice-president of BOCOG, said a specially-designed torch to be carried over the world's highest peak, Mt. Everest, will be tested on the mountain.


Liu said the runners who will test the torch have been training and a proper date will be decided sometime this year.


"The torch will be designed specifically in order to burn at such a high altitude. And the design is in its final stage," he said. "This rehearsal will be very important for a successful torch relay for the Beijing Olympic Games on the world's highest peak in 2008."


He said the torch relay across Mount Everest ahead of the 2008 Olympics will be performed during a safe period considering the weather conditions, and the proceedings will be broadcast live on TV across the world.


Beijing has promised in its bidding reports that the holy fire of the Olympics will reach the world's highest peak. It will be the first time for the Olympic torch relay to scale the 8844.43-meter mount.


BOCOG has revealed that the torch is expected to reach Everest from the southern slope before the mountaineers carry it down along the northern slope.


According to measurements made by scientists in 2005, the altitude of Mount Everest, is 8844.43 meters, 3.70 meters lower than the figure obtained in 1975.


He said Olympic venues and training sites should be finished by the end of the year. International Olympic Committee officials have praised Beijing for being far ahead of schedule.


Liu said 26 test events would be held in 2007, but no specific calendar has been set. Initial plans call for most of them to be held in the second half of the year.


The plans are also expected to include rehearsals of the opening and closing ceremonies, Liu said. He said recruitment of volunteers would be completed by the end of 2007, and administrative procedures to manage the games would also be finalized this year.


(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily January 4, 2007)

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