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Home arrow Home arrow Half of city turns out to welcome Torch
Half of city turns out to welcome Torch PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 May 2008

 by Natalie Leung

One of the largest crowds ever seen in Macau turned out yesterday to welcome the Olympic Torch as is weaved its way through the Peninsula and Taipa.

Organisers estimate almost 250,000 flag waving and cheering spectators lined the streets for the first time the Olympic Flame crossed onto Macau soil.
Amidst tight security that included bag checks for posters and banners, the event ran smoothly with no protesters sighted.
The atmosphere was very pro-China with locals, tourists and sponsor employees chanting “China, China” and waving flags handed out by organisers.
However the original route was altered at the last minute due to overcrowding of the route and time constraints and the flame did not go to Senado Square and the Taipa village.
Thousands of onlookers began lining the streets hours before the 3.30pm commencement of the relay at Fisherman's Wharf.
A Beijing tourist, Mr Tung, came to Macau especially to see the sacred flame of the Olympics as he had "missed the chance" when the Chinese capital received the flame on March 31 before the torch relay officially began, and said it was "a rare opportunity to see so many people in an exciting atmosphere".
The Workers' Children Primary School also organised some 100 students to support the torch relay at the Fisherman's Wharf because "it's a dream for the Chinese people to host the Olympic Games", said teacher Mr Long, adding "as a Chinese we should be proud and honoured".
Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah was the first Macau representative to receive the flame from  executive vice-president of Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), Yang Shuan after it was lit by Beijing's flame security.
The first torchbearer, Wushu athlete Leong Hong Man received the flame at 3.45pm and made his way through Fisherman's Wharf as security guards, some bracing shields, fought to keep photographers at bay.
During the speech during at the lighting ceremony, the Chief Executive said yesterday "marked a special day in the history of Macau in which the government and the general public should take pride in, and will forever be remembered as the day we welcome for the first time, the Olympic Flame in our city.”
Following a journey that has taken it across the five continents, Mr Ho said the Olympic flame travelled across Macau yesterday, the meeting point of the East and the West, "before returning to China to continue to widely spread the Olympic spirit throughout the mainland, and fully showcase to the world the opening-up and progress of our motherland".
A total of 120 torchbearers ran the 27-kilometre relay past the Golden Lotus Square, StarWorld casino, Wynn Macau, Grand Lisboa and then along Rua do Campo where the flame was transported by a special bus directly to Ruins of St Paul's as the Macau Planning Committee cited that "there were too many spectaculars along the route".
Stanley Ho was the received the torch from the first runner,  Leong Hong Man, who was clearly exhilarated by his run and told the Macau Daily Times he was “very happy and proud”.
After the flame passed the A-Ma Temple, it arrived at the Sai Van Lake where it was delivered in a dragon boat by torchbearer and athlete Peng Zi Shan.
The relay procession then went on Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge to Ocean Gardens apartments in Taipa before turning immediately to the Sai Van Bridge and back to the Peninsula's Macau Tower, Cultural Centre and the Fisherman's Wharf where member of the SAR Executive Council, Leong Heng Teng, lit the cauldron that marked the official conclusion of the Macau Leg at 6.53pm.
During the relay on Sai Van Bridge, the flame borne by the 94th torchbearer Cheong Zi Hin extinguished unexpectedly and had to be lit up again by the flame attendant.
All the original stop-overs in the town of Taipa including the Macau Stadium, Macau University of Science and Technology, the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel and the Jockey Club were cancelled yesterday as "the relay had exceeded the time arrangement and the flame had to be delivered for the closing ceremony on time", the Macau Planning Committee said.
The last torchbearer Leong Heng Teng, said during the community celebration event at the Amphitheatre that the Olympic Torch Relay was "the pure and sacred icon of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Ideal, bringing with it the message of peace, unity, friendship, harmony, understanding and goodwill to people around the world".
Before 8pm when the fireworks show was staged across the Friendship Bridge, the BOCOG flame attendants led the sacred flame back to the safety lantern before extinguishing the cauldron.
The 22nd leg of the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay will take place in Sanya of China's Hainan today.
The flame will then travel to all major mainland cities and arrive in Tianjin on August 4 before travelling back to Beijing on August 6 to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games that will begin two days later.

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