03/13/2008, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET
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Olympics: China prepares a show with 10,000 children, and a Tibet without Tibetans

The first details emerge about the opening ceremony: 10,000 children from all over the world will laugh and sing together, a symbol of love and hope. But Everest will be off limits to everyone when the torch passes at 8,850 metres, to avoid showing pro-Tibet activists on television.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A camera shot of more than 10,000 cute, smiling children from all over the world will conclude the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics on August 8, 2008, while a choir will sing as a symbol and pledge of universal love and hope. Zhang Yimou, the director of the ceremony, explains that the 50-minute show will represent the most important moments in the 5,000 years of Chinese history, but refuses to reveal other details.  The great fear is over the rain: there is a 47 percent chance that the capital will be soaked, although not too seriously.  

Meanwhile, the organising committee for the Beijing games is announcing various pre-Olympic events, intended to attract attention and highlight the new facilities and efficient organisation.  There will be a competitive marathon, possibly meant in part to quell the controversy over the air quality in Beijing, and an athletic meeting in the 'Bird's Nest' stadium, between the end of April and May.  But there will also be a non-competitive course, with the least 20,000 citizens making the final lap in the stadium, to represent - according to Sun Kanglin, head of the Beijing Municipal Sports Administration - that these are the Olympics of the people.  

Meanwhile, the people are "forbidden" from scaling the Chinese side of Mount Everest: no permits are being granted for the period from April to May, when the Olympic torch will climb to the roof of the world, at 8,850 metres of the elevation.  But the real objective of the decision is to prevent the presence of pro-Tibet activists, with their banners calling for civil and religious freedom, when television sets all over the world carry the event.

 John Ackerly, president of the group International Campaign for Tibet, comments that "Beijing is using the Olympics torch ceremony, which should stand for human freedoms and dignity, to bolster its territorial claim over Tibet".

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