Olympics torch relay route unveiled

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LONDON May 19 – The torch relay before the 2012 London Olympics will start in Land's End and travel as far as the outer reaches of Scotland on an 8,000-mile (12,875-kilometre) journey, organisers said Wednesday.LONDON May 19 – The torch relay before the 2012 London Olympics will start in Land’s End and travel as far as the outer reaches of Scotland on an 8,000-mile (12,875-kilometre) journey, organisers said Wednesday.

The Olympic flame will arrive from Greece on May 18, 2012 and the relay will get under way on the westerly tip of mainland Britain and continue for 70 days until the opening ceremony of the Games on July 27, 2012.

There will be no international relay after the chaos caused by human rights protesters demonstrating against China’s hosting of the 2008 Games, although the relay may incorporate a stop in Dublin.

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said: "The Olympic flame will shine a light right across every nation and region of the UK and showcase the very best of who we are and where we live.

"The first locations on the route confirmed today give a flavour of the reach the Olympic torch relay will have around the UK and how extensive the opportunity for starting to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic Games will be."

British International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Craig Reedie said he did not expect a repeat of the violent scenes which marred the international phase of the torch relay ahead of the Beijing Games.

"People used the torch as an opportunity for protest when it should really be an opportunity for peaceful celebration," he said.

"That’s why the decision was taken by the IOC to make it a domestic relay only and I think that can only benefit London and Britain."

However, amid the bridge-building first visit of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to the Republic of Ireland, both states are working on allowing the relay across the Irish border.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, welcoming his British counterpart David Cameron to Dublin, said he hoped the relay would come south from Belfast.

"This will be outside the normal conventional regulations. It would be exceptionally well received in Ireland here," he said.

"Both governments will give full support to this, if the IOC agrees."

The relay aims to go within an hour’s travel time of 95 percent of the British population.

There will be visits to six islands — to the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey and the Scottish islands of Shetland, Orkney and the Isle of Lewis.

The first 74 locations have been confirmed by organisers and will take in famous sports venues, historic sites and places of outstanding natural beauty.

"The torch will be run past many of those famous sporting venues such as Wimbledon, Old Trafford, St Andrews and of course Much Wenlock (the birthplace of the modern Olympics)," Reedie said.

"If it does that and encourages young people that will help build up the huge excitement of London."

On most days of the relay, the Olympic flame will travel for 12 hours a day ending in an evening celebration event.

The first torch relay was introduced at the modern Olympics ahead of the infamous 1936 Berlin Games where, after being lit in Greece, the flame was carried by 3,331 runners over 12 days to the German capital.

The first global torch relay was held in 2004 ahead of the Athens Games, where the flame was carried around the world before eventually arriving back in the Greek capital.

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