S.F. only U.S. city to host Olympic torch run 

San Francisco was chosen by organizers of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as the only U.S. city to participate in the worldwide torch relay that will conclude at the Opening Ceremonies in the Chinese capital.

The relay will begin with the traditional lighting of the flame in Olympia, Greece, on March 25, 2008, and last for more than four months as the torch travels across five continents around the world and through China. It will conclude Aug. 8, 2008.

In addition to San Francisco, other cities along the route include Istanbul, St. Petersburg, London, Paris, Buenos Aires, Islamabad, Bangkok, Jakarta, Seoul, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

As the prelude to the Beijing Olympic Games, the torch relay is "one of the most important ceremonies and a major means to spread and promote the Olympic spirit," said Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games, in a statement announcing the relay route on Thursday.

Today, Mayor Gavin Newsom will hold a press conference to celebrate the selection of San Francisco for the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay. He will be joined by Peng Keyu, the consul general ofChina in San Francisco, and several United States Olympic Committee officials.

On Thursday, Newsom said San Francisco was "proud and deeply honored" to be selected for the torch relay.

"As the only American city selected and also as the gateway to the Pacific Rim, I believe San Francisco truly reflects the diversity that is consistent with the Olympic games," Newsom said.

In 2002, the Olympic torch relay passed through San Francisco on its way to the Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Anne Cribbs, a former Olympic gold medallist who heads up the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, a group that has spearheaded efforts to bring the Olympic Games to San Francisco and the Bay Area, said she was proud that year to take the torch on a cable car.

"There’s something about the torch that is very special," Cribbs said.

In 2003, The City was passed over on a bid to host the 2012 games in favor of New York City, which eventually lost out to London. Last year, San Francisco made the U.S. Olympic Committee’s short list of cities for a possible bid for 2016.

The City had to pull out of the running in November in the wake of the announcement by the San Francisco 49ers that they might build their new stadium — the planned centerpiece of The City’s Olympic proposal — in Santa Clara.

beslinger@examiner.com

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