A Tanzanian Olympic official said that they are ready to welcome the Olympic flame in Tanzania's largest city of Dar es Salaam, the only city to host the 2008 torch relay in Africa.
"The torch relay of the Beijing Olympic Games is called a journey of harmony, which means it is a journey for peace," said Filbert Bayi, secretary general of the Tanzanian Olympic Committee (TOC), on Thursday.
"I am sure when the (Olympic) torch comes to Tanzania, especially in Dar es Salaam which is dubbed as the harbor of peace, everything will be put in right place and we are ready to receive the Olympic torch."
In response to the disruption activities against the torch relay in Paris, Bayi stressed that politics should not be mixed with sports and the Olympics.
"The Olympic Games is about friendship, peace, environment and togetherness. It is about that hundreds of thousands of people are meeting together and making friends. The torch is just the beginning of the Olympic Games. As we are sports people, we do not want to take the torch relay as part of politics," Bayi told Xinhua.
The TOC official said that he was the one who gave the green light to the Dar es Salaam torch relay.
Tanzanian sports officials and city dwellers are all very happy to learn that the Olympic flame is coming to town, said Bayi.
"The upcoming torch relay will strengthen the relations between China and Tanzania," said the general secretary. "The friendship between our two countries can be dated back to a long time ago. At that time we have got the TAZARA railway and nowadays we have got a national stadium with the help of China. Many Chinese are doing business in Dar es Salaam, although we do not have a Chinese town."
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA), dubbed as "Uhuru Railway" which means Freedom Railway in Swahili, links Dar es Salaam and New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. It was built between 1970 and 1975 with Chinese help.
"Our friendship has grown up. When the Olympics comes to China, as a friend of China, we Tanzania have been given a chance to host the torch relay," said Bayi.
The TOC official will be a torch bearer on Sunday. "See you during the ceremony of torch relay," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency April 11, 2008)