Olympic torch set for trouble-free run in Oman
The Olympic torch is expected to get a rare protest-free outing on Monday in a parade through the capital of the Sultanate of Oman on the Middle Eastern leg of its journey to Beijing.
The torch was scheduled to land in Muscat at 5:40 am (local time) from Tanzania and be spirited away under tight security, the Oman Olympic Committee (OOC) said.
The parade has been scheduled for the evening, in an apparent bid to avoid daytime temperatures expected to reach 40 Celsius.
Some 80 athletes including Omani football players will relay the flame in a 20-kilometer run along a route which takes in several historical sites in the coastal city.
Muscat, where demonstrations are rare, is expected to be a quiet stop for the torch relay dogged by human rights protests in almost every city where it has appeared so far.
Oman, on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, has been ruled for centuries by the Al-Busaid dynasty, which does not allow political parties.
The country enjoys good relations with China which is a major destination for Oman's oil exports, while Chinese companies are involved in several local projects, including the construction of a 130 million dollar highway.
OOC vice-chairman Habib Macki said a "chief guest" will light the torch in the evening before it is paraded through the city. Each torch-bearer will run for a distance of 200 metres.
Folk dancing and fireworks will accompany the flame's progress along its route through the capital, Macki said, without making any reference to security arrangements.
But a member of an OOC special committee set up to oversee the torch relay, Hisham al-Sinani, told AFP that police will be out in force to protect the torch and its bearers.