Olympic torch reaches Hong Kong
Saturday, May 3, 2008
The Olympic torch has returned to Chinese soil. More than 1 million Hong Kong residents and visitors ignored light showers on Friday to greet and cheer the Olympic torch relay. Hong Kong is the first Chinese destination to welcome the Olympic flame after its month-long journey across the world, spanning 19 cities.
It was the Hong Kong's first Olympic torch relay since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The eight-hour torch run included carrying the flame aboard a dragon boat across the Shing Mun River, and on horseback into the Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian Venue and Sha Tin Racecourse. Hong Kong, a co-host city of the Beijing Games in August, will stage the equestrian events.
"Today, the Olympic torch relay resumes on Chinese soil after its global journey across five continents. It is a great and solemn honor for Hong Kong, Asia's world city, to be the first in China to welcome back the Olympic flame on behalf of our proud nation," said Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang.
The torch relay began at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre at Tsim Sha Tsui where 1996 Atlanta Olympic gold medalist for windsurfing, Lee Lai-shan received the torch from Chief Executive, Donald Tsang. Lee then handed the Olympic flame to Olympic table tennis silver medalist Li Ching, who passed it to his doubles partner Ko Lai-Chak. Lee said, "It is one of my big moments and I am feeling the same excitement I did when I won the Olympic gold medal."
Early in the morning, a large number of people gathered on both sides of Nathan Road in preparation for the events. Many of the spectators wore red clothes to match the colour of the Chinese flag.
One hundred and twenty torchbearers carried the torch on a 26-km route. The torch bearers passed landmarks such as the Tsing Ma Bridge and the Avenue of Stars, before it was ferried across Victoria Harbor to Hong Kong Island.
Asian Games champion cyclist Wong Kam-po was the last to the carry the Olympic torch. Wong carried the torch to the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai, where he lit the cauldron, pulling down the curtain and ending the Hong Kong leg of the torch relay.