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Beijing Olympic flame lands in Istanbul

The Beijing Olympics flame arrives in Turkey's biggest city to start the second leg of an unprecedented global torch relay.
None | By Xinhua, Istanbul
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2008 12:15 PM IST

The Beijing Olympics flame arrived in Turkey's biggest city in Istanbul on Thursday to start the second leg of an unprecedented global torch relay.

The Olympic flame, carried in a specially designed lantern, was flown into Istanbul by a chartered plane from Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty, the first leg of the global relay.

Jiang Xiaoyu, executive vice president of the Beijing Organising Committee of Olympic Games (BOCOG), carried the flame lantern.

Upon arrival, the Olympic flame and the whole delegation were welcomed by a cheering crowd, among whom were vice governor of Istanbul province Ergun Gungor, senior official of the Turkish Olympic Committee Yalcin Aksoy and Chinese ambassador to Turkey Sun Guoxiang.

Aksoy has said the 17.8-km torch relay would start Thursday in Istanbul, the only city in the world located on two continents - Asia and Europe.

According to Aksoy, the starting point of the relay in Istanbul will be the city's signature St. Sophia Square - adjacent to Sultan Ahmet Square. Tugba Karademir, a promising Turkish figure skater aged 23, will be the first runner.

Then Karademir and other torch carriers will wind their way through the city and across the Bosporus Bridge, a famous suspension bridge spanning Asia and Europe, trailed by a 2-km-long convoy,.

After returning to the European part of Istanbul, the torch will head for the destination, Taksim Square, for the lighting of a ceremonial cauldron. At the end, celebrations and plays will be staged on the square. With it, the Olympic flame will go to Russia's St Petersburg.

The 2008 Olympic flame was ignited March 24 in Ancient Olympia of Greece and was handed over to Beijing on March 31 after a six-day relay in Greece.

The 130-day torch relay will cover 137,000 km before the flame returns to Beijing and enters the National Stadium Aug 8 for the opening ceremony.

A total of 21,880 torchbearers will be participating in the unprecedented relay, which is held under the theme of "Journey of Harmony".

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