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Olympic torch lands in Australia

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Olympic torch lands in Australia

Post by shammy on Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:10 pm

Three Chinese "technical assistants'' will run with the Olympic flame in the Canberra leg of the torch relay, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates says.

Mr Coates said another three of the tracksuit-clad personnel would be reserves for the run tomorrow.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other Australian officials have insisted the Chinese personnel will not play any security role.

Last night the Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai fanned the flames of controversy surrounding the role of the Chinese runners when he said they would "use their bodies'' if the flame is attacked by protesters.

Mr Coates said he'd spoken to the ambassador this morning and Mr Zhang insisted he'd been misinterpreted.

"They've got a technical role,'' Mr Coates told reporters at Canberra's Fairbairn Airport after the flame arrived.

"As I understand it there are six technical assistants who are involved in the handover between runner to runner.

"There's three with the flame and three in reserve.''

Mr Coates said they had a responsibility to keep the flame alight.

Asked if today's invitation-only ceremony for the arrival would be the smoothest path of the flame's stay in Australia, Mr Coates said "I hope tomorrow is equally smooth''.

The Olympic torch landed at Canberra's Fairbairn Airport this morning to a traditional welcome by the local Ngunnawal Aboriginal people.


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