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Australian official vows to ensure safety of torch relay
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17:04, April 22, 2008

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Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has pledged to make everything ready to ensure the safety of the Olympic torch relay which will begin in the country on Thursday.

In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, Stanhope expressed his confidence that "everything will be done to ensure the event as safe as possible and we continue to encourage people to turn out on April 24 to enjoy the occasion."

"The safety and security of torchbearers and spectators of the torch relay are of the utmost importance, to myself and the ACT government," Stanhope said.

Australians and Tibetans had the right to protest, but the protests should be held in a peaceful way, he said, noting that the ACT government would not allow any one to undermine the relay.

To make sure the torch relay goes smoothly and safely, the police and the ACT government were liaising "closely with the Federal Government, the Chinese Embassy, the Beijing Organizing Committee of Olympic Games (BOCOG) and Australian Olympic Committee to ensure all stakeholders are kept fully informed of recent developments."

"Security arrangements are being reviewed daily and will remain subject to change up until the day of the relay," he added.

Stanhope said the ACT government and himself were extremely honored to have been selected as the Australian stopover for the Olympic torch relay.

"It is a great opportunity for us to come together as a community and show off what we consider to be one of the world's most beautiful cities."

Stanhope also said the ACT Organizing Committee for the Relay had been working very hard to prepare for the event and made sure everyone in Canberra knows about the event.

"We have put in place an extensive advertising campaign publicizing the event and promoting the community celebrations that will accompany the relay. We also have many volunteers helping us with the coordination of the event and are encouraging all Canberrans to be involved on the day," he noted.

Talking about the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games, the chief minister said he knew "preparations are well underway in Beijing for the Olympic Games," adding that he was certain "Beijing and BOCOG will do a fantastic job in hosting the world's greatest sporting event."


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