Torch relay

The design of the 2008 Olympic Torch was based on traditional scrolls and used a traditional Chinese design known as the "Propitious Clouds" (). The torch was designed to remain lit in 65 km/h (40 mph) winds, and in rain of up to 50 mm (2 in) per hour.[46] The relay, with the theme "Journey of Harmony", was met with protests and demonstrations by pro-Tibet supporters throughout its journey. It lasted 130 days and carried the torch 137,000 km (85,000 mi)—the longest distance of any Olympic torch relay since the tradition began at the 1936 Berlin Games.[47][48] The torch relay was described as a "public relations disaster" for China by USA Today,[49] with protests against China's human rights record, particularly focused on Tibet. The IOC subsequently barred future Olympics organizers from staging international torch relays.[50] The relay began March 24, 2008, in Olympia, Greece. From there, it traveled across Greece to Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens, and then to Beijing, arriving on March 31. From Beijing, the torch followed a route passing through every continent except Antarctica. The torch visited cities on the Silk Road, symbolizing ancient links between China and the rest of the world. A total of 21,880 torchbearers were selected from around the world by various organizations and entities.[51] The international portion of the relay was problematic. The month-long world tour encountered wide-scale protests. After trouble in London involving attempts by protestors to put out the flame, the torch was extinguished in Paris the following day.[52] The American leg in San Francisco on April 9 was altered without prior warning

to avoid such disturbances, although there were still demonstrations along the original route.[53] The relay was further delayed and simplified after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake hit western China.[54] Route of the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay The flame was carried to the top of Mount Everest[51] on a 108 km (67 mi) long "highway" scaling the Tibetan side of the mountain, built especially for the relay. The $19.7 million blacktop project spanned from Tingri County of Xigaze Prefecture to the Everest Base Camp.[55] In March 2008, China banned mountaineers from climbing its side of Mount Everest, and later persuaded the Nepalese government to close their side as well, officially citing environmental concerns.[56] It also reflected concerns by the Chinese government that Tibet activists may try to disrupt its plans to carry the Olympic torch up the world's tallest peak.[57] The originally proposed route would have taken the torch through Taipei after leaving Vietnam and before heading for Hong Kong. However, the government of Taiwan (then led by the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party) objected to this proposal, claiming that this route would make the portion of the relay in Taiwan appear to be part of the torch's domestic journey through China, rather than a leg on the international route.[58] This dispute, as well as Chinese demands that the flag and the national anthem of the Republic of China be banned along the route led the government of Taiwan to reject the proposal that it be part of the relay route, and the two sides of the Taiwan Strait subsequently blamed each other for injecting politics into the event.