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Olympic Torch Arrives in Salt Lake City - 2002-02-08


After a 46-state journey across the United States, the Olympic torch arrived in Salt Lake City late Thursday. People on bicycles and in wheelchairs joined the cross-country odyssey, leading up to the start of the winter games on Friday.

It was the moment that people in Salt Lake City had been anticipating, as the Olympic flame came to the end of its 65-day journey.

Spectator John Lappie thought it was worthwhile to brave the late-night cold to see the torch arrive here. "It sure was. We came all the way from Columbus, Ohio," he said.

Olympic official Mark Walker has travelled with the Olympic torch on its 65-day journey. It was carried by people on skis and others on horseback, on a round-about route across the United States. "And when you look at those 65 days, what we wanted to do was bring the flame to as many people as we could," he said. "So in doing that, you go to the populous communities."

Mr. Walker said the Olympic flame was also taken to smaller communities, to reach as many people as possible. "And there was so much energy and so much excitement to support these people. And they want to see the Olympic flame. It's a part of history. It made for great relay," he said.

Salt Lake City Olympic official Joy Kohnken said the completion of the journey of the Olympic flame is especially important now for the people of the United States, after the terror attacks of last September. "It is an emotional moment for everyone involved, from the torchbearers themselves to the people that watch them on the sidelines. And especially at this juncture for our country. It's a been a time to unite in a way that we've never been able to do before," he said.

Friday night, the Olympic flame will ignite the Olympic cauldron to symbolize the start of the winter games.

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