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    » 04/23/2008, 00.00

    CHINA - TIBET

    The misadventures of the Olympic torch on Everest



    Reduced access and cancelled appointments for journalists; no permission to film anything except for the torch climbing to the roof of the world. China fears new uprisings and pro-Tibet demonstrations.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The presence of foreign media on Everest to follow the journey of the Olympic torch will be reduced, officially because of "uncertain weather conditions", but many think that it is out of fear of demonstrations in favour of Tibet.

    Yesterday, the spokesman of the Bocog (Beijing Olympic organising committee) announced that journalists who were planning to leave on April 22 to follow the event on the highest mountain in the world will need to delay their departure for at least four more days.

    The greeting ceremony for the journey of the torch to the roof of the world, which was supposed to take place at a base camp at 5,500 metres, has also been cancelled.  The only event still planned is the journey of the torch itself.  And finally, the journalists who are following the event will be able to stay in Tibet for only 13-14 days in all.

    The changes in the plan, which was set up three months ago, are officially due to bad weather conditions on the mountain.  But according to accredited reporters, the change in the program demonstrates China's reluctance to bring prying eyes into the Tibetan region, which has been isolated for more than a month, after the uprising of the monks in Lhasa and in the nearby regions.

    "This has nothing to do with the situation in Tibet", says Wang Hui, a Bocog spokeswoman. "It's all because of the uncertain weather conditions. Mount Qomolangma [the Chinese name for Everest] is not a place where many people can go".

    Before the uprisings in March, the ascent of the torch to Mount Everest was publicised as the climax of the sensationalism and appeal of these Olympics.

    China has prepared a special torch for the ascent of Everest, one that is different from the torch used so far and is capable of handling the high mountain atmosphere, with its possible strong winds.

    According to the reporters, the new plan does not permit them the necessary time to acclimate themselves to the temperatures and altitude. Bocog officials have not responded to these concerns.

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    See also

    04/08/2008 INDIA - TIBET - CHINA - NEPAL
    Tibetan Olympic torch, sign of freedom and justice
    In imitation of the Olympic torch, it has crossed five continents to recall the Tibetan question and Chinese repression against rights in the country, and call for Tibet's freedom. Meanwhile, yesterday in Nepal 253 pro-Tibet demonstrators were arrested.

    08/05/2008 CHINA - TIBET
    The torch on the roof of the world, to celebrate Chinese greatness
    The summit was "conquered" at 9:11 Beijing time, despite freezing temperatures and gusts of wind. The final group was made up of Han Chinese and Tibetans, to demonstrate harmony. But the police in China and Nepal were on the watch for "unauthorised" persons.

    26/04/2008 CHINA - TIBET - JAPAN
    World leaders applaud the announcement of talks between China and the Dalai Lama
    Favourable comments worldwide over yesterday's announcement, but also anticipation of future results. Meanwhile, the torch passes "unharmed" through Japan.

    09/12/2008 CHINA - TIBET - UE
    Beijing asks Sarkozy government to "take effective steps to mend its errors"
    Extremely harsh reaction to meeting with Dalai Lama. China is threatening to make France pay a "heavy price." Tibetan leader in exile: China must overcome "two moral obstacles" to become a genuine superpower.

    03/05/2008 CHINA - TIBET
    Beijing will have Tibetans carry the torch on Everest
    The Chinese government confirms: among the 50 climbers who will carry the Olympic symbol to the roof of the world, there will also be Tibetans. The climb should begin on May 5, while envoys from the Dalai Lama are arriving in Beijing to find a "common solution" to the crisis of Tibet.



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