Tuesday, 26 February, 2008

Tibetan Olympic Torch in Taipei

The Taipei leg of the torch relay for the 2008 Tibetan Olympics took place 24-02-2008 with Tibetan expats in Taiwan, several Tibet support groups and Miss Tibet 2006 Tsering Chungtak in attendance [Tsering Chungtak, a sociology major from the University of New Delhi, made headlines last December when she was expelled from the 2007 Miss Tourism competition in Malaysia for standing up against the Chinese government and refusing to wear a sash that read "Miss Tibet-China."] "I feel very, very happy to be here today? to celebrate the spirit of the Olympics," Chungtak told spectators, supporters of the free Tibet campaign and reporters gathered in front of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, Taipei where the relay took place.

The Tibetan Olympics has been organized by Tibetans in exile, and will take place in Dharamshala, India -- the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile -- between May 15 and May 25. The events include long-distance running, swimming, shooting and archery, and six track and field events, according to the Tibetan Olympics Web site. Tibetans in exile have filed an application to the International Olympic Committee to participate in the Beijing Olympics as "Team Tibet," but it was rejected. The Tibetans therefore decided to organize their own Olympics. The relay began in New Delhi, India, on Jan. 30 and Taipei is the second stop for the relay after it passed through Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 17.

The organizers of the torch relay purposely chose Jan. 30 to begin the relay, because that was the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi, the leader of the non-violent resistance movement against British colonial rule, Chow told the audience at the ceremony.

After Taipei, the torch will travel to Dharamshala, India for a ceremony to mark the 49th anniversary of the March 10 Tibetan Uprising. The relay will then continue through eight other cities in six countries -- including Japan, the US, Bolivia, the UK, South Africa and Israel -- before the torch finally returns to Dharamshala on May 25 for the Games' closing ceremony.