Tibetan Olympics torch relay takes on its route around the world

Torch relay of the Tibetan Olympics, a symbolic Tibetan sport event ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, opened Wednesday from the UN premises in the Indian capital.

From Delhi the torch will go around the world through five continents covering Sydney, Taipei, Maui (Hawaii), Sucre (Bolivia), New York City, London, and Jerusalem before arriving in McLeod Ganj, the official venue for the games in the northern India state of Himachal.

The Games' official website says it is yet to confirm Tokyo, San Francisco, and Capetown as other possible routes of the torch relay.

According to Mr Lobsang Wangyal, the man behind the event, "The torch will subsequently embark on an around-the-world tour, visiting five continents before returning to India in May."

Initially, the lighting was planned at the Gandhi Samadhi (memorial tomb), coinciding with the Gandhi's 60th death anniversary, but was refused permission by Delhi police.

"We light the torch on this day to pay our homage to Gandhi for his beliefs and guidance in justice, freedom and peace," Mr Lobsang said before the torch relay began.

The Tibetan Olympics 2008, which will be held from 15 to 25 May in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, will celebrate the unsung Tibetan people's sporting spirit while, at the same time, telling the world that Tibet would be missing during the Beijing Games.

The Tibetan Olympics will have a customised decathlon, including long-distance running, swimming, shooting, archery as well as other track and field events.

The winner in each of the men's and women's categories will get a cash prize of Rs.100, 000 ($2,200) while the first and second runners-up will win Rs. 50,000 and Rs.25, 000 each respectively.

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