The international leg of the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay, when finished, not only will be the longest relay route, but also become the first Olympic relay to reach six of the seven continents on earth, the first to reach the summit on Mt. Everest and have the most torchbearers in Olympic history. The relay began in Olympia, Greece on 25 March with the lighting of the flame by the rays of the sun and continued to Beijing, where the official relay was started. The relay went on to 19 other countries and ended in Hong Kong and Macau on 3 and 4 May.


Choose a relay city to view thumbnails.

Almaty | Istanbul | St. Petersburg | London | Paris | San Francisco | Buenos Aires | Dar es Salaam | Muscat | Islamabad | New Delhi | Bangkok | Kuala Lumpur | Jakarta | Canberra | Nagano | Seoul | Pyongyang | Ho Chi Minh City | Taipei | Hong Kong | Macau

1st leg of the Torch Relay- Almaty, Kazakhstan. 2 April 2008

The first torchbearer in Almaty, where the Olympic torch arrived for the first time ever, was the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev. The route ran 20 km from Medeo stadium to Astana Square. Among other 79 torchbearers were Olympic champions Bakhtiyar Artayev, Yermakhan Ibraimov (boxing), Yuriy Melnichenko, Zaksylik Ushkempirov (wrestling), Anatoly Khrapaty (weightlifting); the first Olympic champion for independent Kazakhstan Vladimir Smirnov (cross-country skiing) skied his lap on a special artificial snow track; famous Kazakh singer Roza Rymbaeva ran her lap singing a song about Kazakhstan.

2nd leg of the Torch Relay- Istanbul, Turkey. 3 April 2008

The torch relay leg in Istanbul, held on 3 April, started on Sultanahmet Square and finished in Taksim Square. On the 20 km long route the Olympic flame was carried by 80 torchbearers, the first being a figure skater Tuğba Karademir and the last — the Olympic champion in weightlifting Taner Sağır.

3rd leg of the Torch Relay- St. Petersburg, Russia. 5 April 2008

On 5 April the Olympic torch arrived at St. Petersburg, Russia. The length of the torch relay route in the city was 20 km, with the start at the Victory Square and finish at the Palace Square. Among the 80 torchbearers were Olympic champions Lyubov Yegorova (cross-country skiing), Viktor Zhdanovich (fencing), Vladimir Salnikov, Alexander Popov, Sergey Kopliakov, Andrey Krylov (swimming), Alexander Dityatin (artistic gymnastics), Tatyana Kazankina (athletics), Anatoly Alyabyev (biathlon), Evgeni Plushenko, Tatiana Totmianina, Maxim Marinin, Anton Sikharulidze, Alexei Urmanov, Oksana Kazakova, Artur Dmitriev, Oleg Vasiliev (figure skating), Svetlana Zhurova (speed skating), and others; figure skating coach Tamara Moskvina; mixed martial artist Fedor Emelianenko; polar explorers Robert Swan, Artur Chilingarov; cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova; actress Alisa Freindlich; football player Andrei Arshavin and other prominent people.

4th leg of the Torch Relay- London, England. 6 April 2008

The torch relay leg held in London on 6 April began in Wembley, passed through the City of London, and eventually ended at the O2 in the eastern part of the city. Torchbearers included Kelly Holmes, Sir Trevor McDonald, Vanessa Mae, Kevin Pieterson and Amara Karan. The 48 km (31 mi) leg took a total of seven and a half hours to complete, and attracted protests by pro-Tibet and pro-Human Rights supporters, prompting changes to the planned route and an unscheduled move onto a bus.

5th leg of the Torch Relay- Paris, France. 7 April 2008

The torch relay leg in Paris began on the first level of the Eiffel Tower and finished at the Stade Charléty. French athlete Stéphane Diagana was the first torchbearer. Other torchbearers included David Douillet, Marie-José Pérec, Jin Jing, Teddy Riner, Arnaud Di Pasquale, Pi Hongyan and Mary Pierce.
The relay was initially supposed to cover 28 km, but it was shortened at the demand of Chinese officials following widespread protests by pro-Tibet and human rights activists, who repeatedly attempted to disrupt, hinder or halt the procession.
A scheduled ceremony at the town hall was cancelled at the request of the Chinese authorities, and, also at the request of Chinese authorities, the torch finished the relay by bus instead of being carried by athletes.

6th leg of the Torch Relay- SanFrancisco, United States. 9 April 2008

On the day of the relay officials diverted the torch run to an unannounced route. The start was at McCovey Cove, where Norman Bellingham of the U.S. Olympic Committee gave the torch to the first torchbearer, Chinese 1992 Olympic champion swimmer Lin Li. The planned closing ceremony at Justin Herman Plaza was cancelled and instead, a ceremony was held at San Francisco International Airport. The route changes avoided many supporters and protestors, alike. As crowds found out there would be no closing ceremony at Justin Herman Plaza, there were angry reactions. One demonstrator was quoted as saying that the route changes were an effort to "thwart any organized protest that had been planned." San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, a critic of Mayor Gavin Newsom, said that it was a
"cynical plan to please the Bush State Department and the Chinese government because of the incredible influence of money."
Newsom, on the other hand, said he felt it was in "everyone's best interest" and that he believed people had been "afforded the right to protest and support the torch" despite the route changes.
Peter Ueberroth, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, praised the route changes, saying, "The city of San Francisco, from a global perspective, will be applauded." People who saw the torch were surprised and cheered. The cost to the city for hosting the event was reported to be USD 726,407.75, nearly half of which has been recovered by private fundraising. Mayor Gavin Newsom said that "exponential" costs associated with mass arrests were avoided by his decision to change the route in consultation with police chief Heather Fong.

7th leg of the Torch Relay- Buenos Aires, Argentina. 11 April 2008

The torch relay leg in Buenos Aires began with an artistic show at the Lola Mora amphitheatre in Costanera Sur. In the end of the show the mayor of Buenos Aires Mauricio Macri gave the torch to the first torchbearer, Carlos Espínola. The leg finished at the Buenos Aires Riding Club in the Palermo district, the last torchbearer being Gabriela Sabatini. The 13.8 km route included landmarks like the obelisk and Plaza de Mayo. Among the remaining 78 torchbearers were famous athletes like Georgina Bardach, Paola Suárez and Pablo Chacón.
Soccer star Diego Maradona was among the athletes invited to carry the torch, but he delayed his stay overseas in an apparent attempt to avoid the Olympic controversy. The day was marked by several pro-Tibet protests, which included a giant banner reading "Free Tibet", and an alternative "human rights torch" that was lit by protesters and paraded along the route the flame was to take. Most of these protests were peaceful in nature, and the torch was not impeded. Chinese immigrants also turned out in support of the Games, but only minor scuffles were reported between both groups. Runners surrounded by rows of security carried the Olympic flame past thousands of jubilant Argentines in the most trouble-free torch relay in nearly a week. People showered the parade route with confetti as banks, government offices and businesses took an impromptu half-day holiday for the only Latin American stop on the flame's five-continent journey.

8th leg of the Torch Relay- Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 13 April 2008

The relay covered 5 km. The torch was lit by Vice-President Ali Mohamed Shein, and torchbearers included John Stephen Akhwari, Dorcus Inzikuru and Anna Tibaijuka. About a thousand people followed the relay, waving the Olympic flag. The only noted instance of protest was Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai's withdrawal from the list of torchbearers, in protest against human rights abuses in Tibet.

9th leg of the Torch Relay- Muscat, Oman. 14 April 2008

The relay covered 20 km. Among the torchbearers was Rahma Marhoon, who will represent Oman at the Beijing Paralympic Games. It was the first time that Oman hosted the Olympic torch relay. No protests or incidents were reported.

10th leg of the Torch Relay- Islamabad, Pakistan. 16 April 2008

President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani spoke at the opening ceremony of the relay. The first torchbearer was Samiullah Khan, and the last was Jahangir Khan. Security was high, for what one newspaper called the "most sensitive leg" of the torch's Olympic journey. The relay was initially supposed to carry the torch around Islamabad, but the entire relay was cancelled due to security concerns regarding "militant threats or anti-China protests", and replaced by an indoors ceremony with the torch carried around the track of Jinnah Stadium.

11th leg of the Torch Relay- New Delhi, India. 17 April 2008

Due to concerns about pro-Tibet protests, the relay through New Delhi was cut to just 2.3 km (less than 1.5 miles), which was shared amongst 70 runners. It concluded at the India Gate. The event was peaceful due to the public not being allowed at the relay. A total of five intended torchbearers -Kiran Bedi, Soha Ali Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Gavaskar- withdrew from the event, citing "personal reasons", or, in Bhutia's case, explicitly wishing to "stand by the people of Tibet and their struggle" and protest against the PRC "crackdown" in Tibet. Torchbearers who did participate included Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Abhinav Bindra, Ayan Ali Bangash and Rajinder Singh Rahelu.

12th leg of the Torch Relay- Bankok, Thailand. 18 April 2008

The relay covered just over 10 km, and included Bangkok's Chinatown. The torch was carried past Democracy Monument, Chitralada Palace and a number of other city landmarks. Among the torchbearers were Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kajornprasart, followed by Thailand's five Olympic champions, Manus Boonjumnong, Somluck Kamsing, Udomporn Polsak, Vijan Polnlid and Pawina Thongsuk. M.R. Narisa Chakrabongse, Green World Foundation (GWF) chairwoman, withdrew from the torch-running ceremony, protesting against China's actions in Tibet. Several hundred protesters were present, along with Olympic supporters.

13th leg of the Torch Relay- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 21 April 2008

The 16.5 km long-relay began from the historic Independence Square, passed in front of several city landmarks before coming to an end at the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. Among the landmarks the Olympic flame passed next to were the Parliament House, National Mosque, KL Tower and Merdeka Stadium. A team of 1000 personnel from the Malaysian police Special Action Squad guarded the event and escorted the torchbearers. There were a total of 80 torchbearers, comprising corporate figures, sports personalities and patrons of sports organizations. Cheah Soon Kit, Yap Kim Hock and Nicol David were among the torchbearers. The last time an Olympic torch relay was held in Malaysia was before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

14th leg of the Torch Relay- Jakarta, Indonesia. 22 April 2008

Among the torchbearers were athletes Taufik Hidayat, Susi Susanti and Alan Budikusuma and the governor of Jakarta, Fauzi Bowo. The original 20 km relay through Jakarta was cancelled due to "security worries", at the request of the Chinese embassy, and the torch was instead carried round the city main's stadium, as it had been in Islamabad. Several dozen pro-Tibet protesters gathered near the stadium, and were dispersed by the police.

15th leg of the Torch Relay- Canberra, Australia. 24 April 2008

The relay covered around 16 km of Canberra's central areas, from Reconciliation Place to Commonwealth Park. Upon its arrival in Canberra, the Olympic flame was presented by Chinese officials to local Aboriginal elder Agnes Shea, of the Ngunnawal people. She, in turn, offered them a message stick, as a gift of peace and welcome. Among the torchbearers were Ian Thorpe, Ron Clarke, Jodie Henry, Tania Major, Megan Marcks, Jonathon Welch, Libby Trickett, Robert de Castella, Matt Welsh, Adam Pine, Lee Kernaghan, Alice Mills, Fiona Stanley, Mark Beretta, Peter Sharp, Louise Sauvage, Jai Taurima, Petria Thomas, Fiona Wood and Heather McKay. One torchbearer, Lin Hatfield Dodds, withdrew from the event, citing concerns about China's human rights record. Hundreds of pro-Tibet protesters and thousands of Chinese students reportedly attended. Demonstrators and counter-demonstrators were kept apart by the Australian Federal Police. Preparations for the event were marred by a disagreement over the role of the Chinese flame attendants, with Australian and Chinese officials arguing publicly over their function and prerogatives during a press conference.

16th leg of the Torch Relay- Nagano, Japan. 26 April 2008

Nagano, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics hosted the 16th Torch Relay. Zenkō-ji temple, reconstructed in 1707 and one of the National Treasures of Japan, was to feature prominently in the relay as the starting point, decided to pull out due to concerns about events in Tibet as well as the risk of disruption by violent protests. Parts of the temple were later vandalized.
A new starting point, previously the site of a municipal building and now a parking lot, was chosen by the city. An event the city had planned to hold at the Minami Nagano Sports Park following the torch relay was also canceled out of concern about disruptions caused by demonstrators protesting against China's recent crackdown in Tibet. Thousands of riot police were mobilized to protect the torch along its route. The show of force kept most protesters in check, but slogans shouted by pro-China or pro-Tibet demonstrators, Japanese nationalists, and human rights organizations flooded the air. The torch route was packed with mostly peaceful spectators. The public was not allowed at the parking lot where the relay started.
After the Zenkoji monks held a prayer ceremony for victims of the events in Tibet, pro-Chinese demonstrators yelled "China, go for it!" at pro-Tibet demonstrators who yelled back "Free Tibet." This continued at high volume throughout most of the 5-hour relay. More than 100 police officers ran with the torch and riot police lined the streets while three helicopters flew above. Only two Chinese guards were allowed to accompany the torch because of Japan's concern over their treatment of demonstrators at previous relays. A man with a Tibetan flag tried to stop the torch at the beginning of the relay but was dragged off by police. Some raw eggs were also thrown from the crowd. The Mayor of Nagano, Shoichi Washizawa said that it has become a "great nuisance" for the city to host the torch relay. Washizawa's aides said the mayor's remark was not criticism about the relay itself but about the potential disruptions and confusion surrounding it.
A city employee of the Nagano City Office ridiculed the protests in Europe, he said "...they are doing something foolish", in a televised interview. Nagano City officially apologized later and explained what he had wanted to say was "Such violent protests were not easy to accept".

17th leg of the Torch Relay- Seoul, South Korea. 27 April 2008

More than 8,000 riot police were deployed to guard the 15-mile route, which began at Olympic Park, which was built when Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Games.
Intended torchbearers Choi Seung-kook and Park Won-sun boycotted the event to protest against the Chinese government's crackdown in Tibet. Chinese students clashed with protesters, throwing rocks, bottles, and punches.
A North Korean defector whose brother defected to China but was captured and executed by the DPRK, attempted to set himself on fire in protest of China's treatment of North Korean refugees. He poured gasoline on himself but police quickly surrounded him and carried him away. Two other demonstrators tried to storm the torch but failed.
Fighting broke out near the beginning of the relay between a group of 500 Chinese supporters and approximately 50 protesters who carried a banner that read: "Free North Korean refugees in China." The students threw stones and water bottles as approximately 2,500 police tried to keep the groups separated. Police said they arrested five people, including a Chinese student who was arrested for allegedly throwing rocks. Thousands of Chinese followed the torch on its 4.5 hour journey, some chanting, "Go China, go Olympics!"

18th leg of the Torch Relay- Pyongyang, North Korea. 28 April 2008

For the first time ever, the Olympic torch went to North Korea, as large crowds in Pyongyang waved red and white flags and cheered the runners.
Presiding over the event was the head of North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament and ceremonial state leader, Kim Yong Nam, according to The Associated Press. He passed the torch to the first runner, Pak Du Ik, who played on North Korea's 1966 World Cup soccer team that made a historic run to the quarterfinals, AP reported.
The 20-kilometer (12-mile) relay began from beneath the larger sculpted flame atop the Juche Tower obelisk, AP reported, adding that the nation's leader, Kim Jong Il, was not seen at the event.

19th leg of the Torch Relay- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 29 April 2008

Some 60 torchbearers carried the torch from the downtown Opera House to the Military Zone 7 Competition Hall stadium near Tan Son Nhat International Airport along an undisclosed route. Vietnam is involved in a territorial dispute with China (and other countries) for sovereignty of the Spratly and Paracel Islands; tensions have risen recently following reports that the Chinese Government had established a county-level city named Sansha in the disputed territories, resulting in anti-Chinese demonstrations in December 2007 in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. However to sustain its relationship with China the Vietnamese government has actively sought to head off protests during the torch relay, with Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng warning government agencies that "hostile forces" may try to disrupt the torch relay.
Prior to the rally seven anti-China protestors were arrested in Hanoi after unfurling a banner and shouting "Boycott the Beijing Olympics" through a loudhailer at a market. A Vietnamese American was deported for planning protests against the torch, while a prominent blogger Điếu Cày (real name Nguyễn Văn Hải) who blogged about protests around the world and who called for demonstrations in Vietnam was arrested on charges of tax evasion. Outside Vietnam, there were protests by overseas Vietnamese in Paris, San Francisco and Canberra. Lê Minh Phiếu, a torchbearer who is a Vietnamese law student studying in France wrote a letter to the president of the International Olympic Committee protesting China's "politicisation of the Olympics", citing maps of the torch relay at the official Beijing Olympic website depicting the disputed islands as Chinese territory and posted it on his blog. One day before the relay was to start, the official website appeared to have been updated to remove the disputed islands and dotted lines marking China's maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Taipei, Taiwan

The planned route originally included a stop in Taipei between Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong, but there was disagreement in Beijing and Taipei over language used to describe whether it was an international or a domestic part of the route. While the Olympic committees of China and Taiwan reached initial consensus on the approach, the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan intervened, stating that this placement could be interpreted as placing Taiwan on the same level as Hong Kong and Macau, an implication it objected to. The Beijing Organizing Committee attempted to continue negotiation, but further disputes arose over the placement and usage of the flag or the anthem of the Republic of China along the 24 km torch route in Taiwan.
As of 21 September 2007, after the midnight deadline for concluding the negotiations, Taiwan and China were unable to come to terms with the issue of the Torch Relay. In the end, both sides of the Taiwan Strait decided to eliminate the Taipei leg.

20th leg of the Torch Relay- Hong Kong. 2 May 2008

In the ceremony held at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Donald Tsang handed the torch to the first torchbearer, Olympic medalist Lee Lai Shan. The torch relay then traveled through Nathan Road, Lantau Link, Sha Tin (crossed Shing Mun River via a dragon boat, which had been never used before in the history of Olympic torch relays), Victoria Harbor (crossed by Tin Hau, a VIP vessel managed by the Marine Department) before ending in Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. A total of 120 torchbearers were selected to participate in the event consisting of celebrities, athletes and members of the pro-Beijing camp politicians. No representatives from the pro-democracy camp were selected as torchbearers. One torchbearer could not participate due to flight delay. It was estimated that more than 200,000 spectators came out and watched the relay. Many enthusiastic supporters wore red shirts and waved large Chinese flags. According to Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang, 3,000 police were deployed to ensure order.
There were several protests along the torch relay route. Members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, including pro-democracy activist Szeto Wah, waved novelty inflatable plastic Olympic flames, which they said symbolized democracy. They wanted accountability for the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and the implementation of democracy in Hong Kong. Political activist and Legislative Council member Leung Kwok-hung (Longhair) also joined the protest, saying "I'm very proud that in Hong Kong we still have people brave enough to speak out. "Pro-democracy activists were overwhelmed by a crowd of torch supporters with insults like "running dog," "traitor," "get out!," and "I love the Communist Party. "At the same time, about 10 members of the Civil Human Rights Front had orange banners calling for human rights improvements and universal suffrage. Onlookers were saying "Aren’t you Chinese?" in Mandarin putonghua as they tried to cover the orange banners with a large Chinese national flag. One woman had an orange sign that said, "Olympic flame for democracy", while a man carried a poster with a tank and the slogan "One world, two dreams". A university student Christina Chan wrapped the Tibetan snow lion flag around her body and later began waving it. Several onlookers heckled Chan, shouting "What kind of Chinese are you?" and "What a shame!" In the end, she and some of the protesters were taken away against their will by the authorities via a police vehicle "for their own protection."
The Color Orange democracy group, led by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot, originally planned to join the Hong Kong Alliance relay and paint the "Pillar of Shame," a structure he built in Hong Kong to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. However, Galschiot and two other people were denied entry to Hong Kong on April 26, 2008 due to "immigration reasons" and were forced to leave Hong Kong. In response, Lee Cheuk Yan, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, said, "It's outrageous that the government is willing to sacrifice the image of Hong Kong because of the torch relay." Hollywood actress Mia Farrow was also briefly questioned at the Hong Kong airport though officials allowed her to enter. She later gave a speech criticizing China's relations with Sudan in Hong Kong, as there was also a small minority of people protesting about China's role in the crisis of Darfur.

21st leg of the Torch Relay- Macau. 3 May 2008

For the first time, an Olympic torch travels to Macau, where the event began with a ceremony held at Macau Fisherman's Wharf. Afterward, the torch traveled through Macau, passing by a number of landmarks includes A-Ma Temple, Macau Tower, Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho, Ponte de Sai Van, Macau Cultural Centre, Macau Stadium and then back to the Fisherman's Wharf for the closing ceremony. Parts of the route near Ruins of St. Paul's and Taipa was shortened due to large crowds of supporters blocking narrow streets. A total of 120 torchbearers participated in this event including casino tycoon Stanley Ho. Leong Hong Man and Leong Heng Teng were the first and last torchbearer in the relay respectively. An article published on Macao Daily News criticized that the list of the touchbearers could not fully represent the Macanese and that there were too many non-athletes among the touchbearers, some of whom had already been torchbearers of other sporting events.
A union planned to protest at the relay for better living conditions. Hong Kong legislator Michael Mak Kwok-fung and activist Chan Cheong, both members of the League of Social Democrats, were not allowed to enter Macau. About 2,200 police were deployed on the streets; there were no interruptions.