Olympic Torch Lit in Beijing
Security is tight as flame begins global journey
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 31, 2008 6:00 AM CDT
Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang holds the Olympic Torch in a sea of confetti after receiving it from President Hu Jintao during the Olympic torch lighting ceremony.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
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(Newser) – 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.