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Japanese Temple Refuses to Host Olympic Torch Relay

A Japanese Buddhist temple is refusing to host the Olympic torch relay when it comes to Japan next week, to protest China's crackdown on Tibetan unrest.

The Zenkoji Temple officials say monks at the temple are concerned about the way fellow Buddhist monks are being treated in China and about the safety of the temple and its worshippers. The temple is located in Japan's northern city of Nagano, and was originally to be the starting point of the relay in Japan.

With China hosting this year's Olympics, the torch has drawn large and sometimes chaotic protests around the world, forcing organizers to beef up security, shorten or even re-route the relay to protect the flame.

The torch is now in Thailand, where it arrived Friday on a chartered flight accompanied by heavy security.

After its arrival, the torch was taken to a luxury hotel, where it will remain until Saturday's scheduled 10-kilometer torch relay.

Thailand's Olympic Committee president, General Yuttasak Sasiprapha, says any foreigners attempting to disrupt the torch relay will be expelled from the country. One of the 80 Thai torchbearers withdrew in protest last month over China's crackdown in Tibet.

On Thursday, the Indian leg of the Olympic torch relay ended after a short run through New Delhi. Anti-Chinese protests took place in parts of the country, but public access was limited along the torch route.

The Olympic torch, which symbolizes the spirit of the Olympic Games, began its worldwide six-continent trek from ancient Olympia in Greece on March 24.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.