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Beijing Olympic flame arrives in Canberra

    CANBERRA, April 23 (Xinhua) -- The plane carrying the Beijing Olympics flame landed in Canberra Wednesda morning for Thursday's torch relay through the heart of the city.

    Air China Airbus A330 touched down at Fairbairn Airport about 7.50 a.m. (AEST) from Jakarta.

    Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, Sports Minister Kate Ellis, President of the Australian Olympic Committee John Coates and Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai were at the airport to meet the sacred flame.

    The Airbus is the official Olympic plane which has been traveling the world with the flame during the torch relay.

    The flame lantern was carried off the plane by Jiang Xiaoyu, Vice President of Beijing Organizing Committee of Olympic Games and Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai.

    Indigenous elder Agnes Shea of the Ngunnawal people presented the message stick to the Chinese officials.

    "I welcome the Olympic torch to Australia in the spirit of peace on behalf of my people, whose history of this places goes back to the beginning of time," Ms Shea said.

    "The words contained within our message stick today are about welcoming our visitors to our country and of the great peace and good fortune for the Beijing Olympic torch relay," Ms Shea continued.

    "In this way the torch is the message stick of the Olympic movement. We want the story of the torch while it is Canberra to be one of peace and understanding.

    "The torch is after all promoting a journey of harmony, may its stay here be one that symbolizes good will for all mankind."

    ACT Chief Minister Stanhope said the next 48 hours were an opportunity to address each other as friends do, with respect and honesty.

    "An opportunity to showcase the splendor of this capital city of which we Canberrans are so proud," he said.

    "In a robust and mature democracy such as ours there is no particular danger in mixed messages."

    Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates said the international journey of the flame was the most ambitious and longest route ever planned for an Olympic torch relay.

    Coates said both Australian games - Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000 - were noted for their efficient organization, the quality of competition and the sense of pervading friendliness.

    "In just 107 days, after the flame has completed its awesome journey having covered an impressive 137,000 kilometers, we will see it burning at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.

    "Australia will be proudly represented by a team of 440 athletes ready to write the next chapter in Australia's rich Olympic history. I can't wait."

    Sports Minister Ellis said it was her special duty to welcome the torch and the Chinese guests on behalf of the Australian government.

    "Australia has a long tradition not just of participation in the Olympic Games but also a great record of success," she said.

    "The Olympic spirit is a good one that I hope burns brightly both today and tomorrow but of course in the Games in Beijing later this year."

    Jiang Xiaoyu thanked the Australian hosts and said Australia has held Olympic Games and understand the spirits of the Olympic Games.

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