China launches Paralympic torch relay

Society Materials 28 August 2008 15:37 (UTC +04:00)

China launched a 10-day torch relay for the Paralympic games on Thursday, four days after the closing of the Olympics, reported dpa.

Premier Wen Jiabao announced the start of the relay as he lit a cauldron at Beijing's Temple of Heaven.

"The flame will symbolize over the next 10 days the unique sporting spirit displayed by Paralympic athletes," Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, said in a speech at the launch ceremony.

A total of 850 bearers will carry the Paralympic torch along two "ancient" and "modern" routes through 11 Chinese regions before the opening of the 13th Paralympic Games in Beijing on September 6.

Deng Pufang, the disabled son of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, also spoke at the ceremony in his capacity as chairman of the China Disabled Persons Federation.

Deng's legs were paralysed after he was thrown from a window during the chaotic fighting within China's ruling Communist Party in the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.

About 4,000 disabled athletes are scheduled to compete in the September 6-17 Paralympics.

Organizers said all tickets were sold for events in the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium and the "Water Cube" aquatics centre, but about half of those available for all events remained unsold.

Some 350,000 members of cheering squads will help to improve the atmosphere at less popular events.