Olympic flame arrives amid tight security in Beijing
The Olympic flame arrives in Beijing, ahead of the official start of the relay, amid tight security due to concerns over pro-Tibet protests.india Updated: Mar 31, 2008 10:54 IST
The Olympic flame arrived in Beijing on Monday ahead of the official start of the relay, with security tight at the Chinese capital's airport amid concerns over protests.
A specially chartered Air China plane from Greece touched down shortly before 0630 IST, with the event broadcast on national television with a slight delay.
The chief of China's Olympic organising committee, Liu Qi, walked off the plane carrying the flame and on to red carpet laid out on the tarmac.
He was greeted by Zhou Yongkang, a member of China's elite Communist Party politburo who is in charge of the nation's security.
The flame will make its way to Tiananmen Square, the political heart of Beijing, for a welcoming ceremony later on this morning.
The torch relay officially starts tomorrow in Beijing when the sacred flame is scheduled to depart for Almaty.
The Kazakh capital is the first stop on an odyssey through 19 countries during April that is followed by an epic three-month tour around China.
However the crisis in Tibet, China's human rights records and other sensitive issues are threatening to take the Olympic shine off the torch relay.
Activist groups had already launched a number of protests in Greece during the official lighting of the torch in Olympia and the subsequent carrying of flame to the Athens airport.
Greece handed over the Olympic torch to the organisers of the Beijing Games yesterday in a tightly guarded Athens ceremony, after police quickly arrested anti-Chinese protesters shouting "Save Tibet".