Japanese Buddhist temple pulls out of torch relay
18 April 2008
TOKYO – A Buddhist temple in the central Japanese city of Nagano withdrew Friday as the starting venue of the Japanese leg of the Olympic torch relay in protest of China’s suppression of the Tibetan people, a temple spokeswoman said.
Zenkoji Temple, the city’s main landmark, had been slated to also host an opening ceremony 26 April for the Beijing Olympic torch relay.
The city government on Friday accepted the monks’ wish to pull out. Major changes were now expected to be made to the 18.5-kilometre run in Japan.
"We have the strong feeling that we are the same Buddhists as the Tibetan people," Jiji Press quoted one of the temple’s monks as saying.
The temple spokeswoman said safety concerns were also part of the temple’s decision to pull out of the relay.
Nagano, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, earlier had cancelled an Olympic-related event to be held next week mainly to strengthen security and management of the torch run.
The event at a park was to feature photo sessions with the Olympic torch, music performances and sales of Olympic-related goods.
Organisers’ decision to cancel the event followed demonstrations and protests during the torch run in London, Paris, San Francisco and New Dehli.
[dpa / Expatica]