Organisers move to reassure visitors as 18 “foreign terrorists” arrested in Xinjiang.
The torchbearers include Yao Ming, the country’s basketball star, Yang Liwei, the first Chinese in space, Liu Xiang, the 110m hurdles champion, and Zhang Yimou, the acclaimed film director.
Thousands of people waving Chinese flags gathered in Tiananmen square and along the relay’s route for the final leg that was broadcast on national television.
“Amid the aspirations and well wishes of the people of the entire city, it will complete its harmonious journey welcoming the grand opening of the games,” Guo Jinlong, Beijing’s mayor, said at a ceremony in Tiananmen to start the leg.
The 130-day relay covered 19 countries before returning to China for a three-month tour that included an ascent of Mount Everest, but it was dogged by protests on its global journey and the domestic leg was overshadowed by the Sichuan earthquake in May that killed nearly 70,000 and left another 18,000 missing.