The Olympic Torch Relay today (May 2) in Hong Kong - the first stop on Chinese soil after the torch's journey across five continents - ended successfully with the Olympic spirit spreading across the territory.
The launching ceremony of the Torch Relay was held in the Piazza of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre at 10am. Gymnastics, drum music, dancing and singing performances were staged, filling the atmosphere with joy and excitement. The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang; the Executive Vice-President of Beijing Organising Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), Mr Yang Shu'an; the President of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, Mr Timothy Fok; and the Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mr Gao Siren; officiated at the ceremony.
Mr Tsang said it was a great honour for Hong Kong to be the first leg of the journey of the Olympic Flame back on Chinese soil after its global journey.
"As a cosmopolitan city of China, Hong Kong is uniquely placed to play this bridging role between the peoples of the world, and the people of our country," he said.
The Olympic ideals of friendship, equality and solidarity were universal ideals that formed an intrinsic part of society and what made Hong Kong tick, he said.
Mr Tsang then started the Olympic Torch Relay in Hong Kong. The flame attendants lit the torch with the Olympic Flame in the safety lantern and passed the torch to Mr Yang. Mr Tsang then received the torch from Mr Yang and displayed it to the guests. Olympic wind-surfing gold medallist Lee Lai-shan received the torch from Mr Tsang and started the Hong Kong leg of Torch Relay.
The Olympic Flame was carried by 119 torchbearers through Kowloon, the New Territories and Hong Kong Island to spread the Olympic spirit by running and through various modes of transport including horse, dragon boat and vessel.
The route, passing through major landmarks and scenic spots which included Tsing Ma Bridge, Shing Mun River, Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian Venue (Sha Tin), Sha Tin Racecourse, Avenue of Stars, Victoria Harbour, Legislative Council Building and the Golden Bauhinia Square, had showcased to the world Hong Kong's beautiful scenery and the vibrancy of the city, Asia's World City. A community celebration attended by more than 16,000 spectators was organised at the Sha Tin Racecourse.
The last torchbearer, Wong Kam-po, the gold medallist from the Men's Individual Road Race at the Doha Asian Games, carried the torch to the Golden Bauhinia Square and lit the cauldron, symbolising the smooth completion of the Torch Relay.
Speaking at the closing ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square, the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Henry Tang said today's relay was truly a journey of harmony. Every member of the community who defied the rain and took part in the Torch Relay played an indispensable role in creating this "sea of red" that swamped Hong Kong today. People cheered for each torchbearer, and embraced the Olympic Spirit with passion and a sense of unity.
"Every second counts in the remaining 98 days to the Equestrian Events. We need to make sure everything is in its best shape when the Olympic Flame is rekindled in August," he said.
After a series of Chinese and Western cultural performances, the flame attendants retrieved the Olympic Flame from the cauldron to the safety lantern which marked the end of the Torch Relay in Hong Kong.
The Olympic Flame then left for the Hong Kong International Airport where it was taken on a charter flight to Macau where the next leg will be held tomorrow (May 3).
Ends/Friday, May 2, 2008
Issued at HKT 22:16