Torch for Tibetan sports event arrives in Taiwan on 10-city relay

A torch for a sports event organized by exiled Tibetans to counter the Beijing Olympics arrived Sunday in Taiwan's capital, the third stop on a 10-city relay.

Tsering Chungtak, Miss Tibet of 2006, carried the torch for a brief run after a ceremony in a Taipei park to promote the "Tibetan Olympics." Organizers said the games were scheduled to open May 15 in Dharmsala, India, the home of the Tibetan government in exile.

China occupied Tibet by military force in 1951. Beijing also insists the self-governed island of Taiwan is still Chinese territory after the two sides split following a civil war in 1949, and many Taiwanese sympathize with the Tibetans.

Dozens of Tibetans from all over the world will compete in the two-week games, which will include running events and a decathlon, organizers said. The Tibetan games torch will also pass through cities including Tokyo, San Francisco and New York, said Li Jieh-mei, an organizer of the Taiwan relay event.

The Beijing Olympics run Aug. 8-24.

Dharmsala has been an important center for Tibetans since their Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled there and set up a government in exile following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Copyright © 2008 AP

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