Beijing, Mar.20 : The Olympic flame, which will be lit on March 24 in Olympia, Greece, will follow the planned route despite safety concerns after recent riots in Lhasa, said organizers.
"Lhasa is now basically restored to order and the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government will ensure the stability there and the smooth operation of the torch relay scaling the world's highest peak," said Jiang Xiaoyu, executive vice president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) at a press conference on Wednesday.
"Those who intend to sabotage the Games are opposing the Olympic Charter and defying the people who love peace and the Olympic Games," Jiang added.
In its bid to host the Olympics, China promised it would take the Olympic torch to the summit of Mt. Qomolangma, or Mt. Everest.
"The message that the Beijing Olympic torch relay conveys is peace, friendship and harmony.We hope the Games will serve as a window though which the world can have a better understanding of China's efforts in developing its economy and its contribution to peace in the world," added the BOCOG official.
In his briefing, Jiang revealed that 16 of the 21 relay countries and regions from outside the Chinese mainland have selected their torchbearers. Those for the mainland have already been chosen. The Chinese mainland relay runners, aged from 14 to 94, include all ethnic groups in China, foreigners living in China as well as compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and overseas Chinese.
Jiang also told the media the relay route is already set. It will pass by some of the world's most famous sites, such as the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, the British Museum in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, as well as the ancient Silk Road in China.
In the relay's record 130-day odyssey, the torch will arrive in the Chinese mainland on May 3 in Sanya, Southwest China's Hainan Province. Afterwards, more than 19,000 torchbearers will carry the flame covering the mainland's 31 provinces and autonomous regions.
The torch will finally arrive back in Beijing on August 6 and will be carried into the National Stadium or Bird's Nest for the opening ceremonies two days later.