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Beijing Prepares for Olympic Opening Friday

The excitement is mounting in China as that nation prepares for the official start of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Thousands of excited Chinese on Wednesday celebrated the arrival of the Olympic torch in Beijing. The vice president of China's Olympic Committee, Li Furong, was the last one to carry the torch as it arrived at a lighting ceremony in the historic Forbidden City.

The opening ceremony will be held Friday in Beijing's "Bird Nest" national stadium. The games are set to open at 8:08 p.m. local time (1208 UTC). The event will be broadcast to an estimated one billion television viewers around the world.

Also Wednesday, China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, said two Americans and two British nationals were ordered to leave the country for demonstrating in favor of a free Tibet. The activists were detained for displaying giant "Free Tibet" banners near the main Olympic stadium in Beijing.

Separately Wednesday, China revoked the visa of U.S. Olympic gold medalist and Darfur anti-violence campaigner Joey Cheek. White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino said the U.S. was disturbed to learn about the refusal.

The International Olympic Committee's decision to have China host the Summer Olympics has been controversial because of the country's poor human rights record.

The Beijing government's harsh crackdown on Tibetan protesters last March triggered demonstrations around the world in the run-up to the Olympics.

But Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, repeated his support Wednesday for the Beijing Olympics and offered his good wishes for the games.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.