The Olympic torch was re-lighted today in Beijing’s Tienanmen Square in an elaborate ceremony marked by tight security, the AP reports. President Hu Jintao passed the flame to a champion Chinese hurdler in a televised event attended by some 5,000 people. Confetti floated over bright red seats and dancers from minority groups—including Tibetans—performed. The lighting begins a 20-country torch relay in a ritual expected to draw anti-China human rights protests around the globe.
The flame's 85,000-mile journey is the longest in Olympic history. Squadrons of police guarded the flame’s path into the city after it arrived from Greece via China Air, and vehicles and pedestrians were kept from the square. The flame next heads to Kazakhstan, and to London, Paris, and San Francisco over the next 10 days. Last week, China's state-sponsored TV cut away from lighting ceremonies in Greece when Tibetan protesters appeared.