Zenkoji Temple May Not Host Torch Relay Opening Ceremony In Nagano

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    More problems for the Nagano torch relay:

    Zenkoji Temple, designated as the starting point for the Nagano leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay, is considering withdrawing from hosting an opening ceremony for the event, sources familiar with the situation said Thursday.

    Officials at the Buddhist temple have apparently informed Nagano city’s committee which is in charge of organizing the March 26 torch relay that the temple is considering whether or not to host the opening event, the sources said.

    The move came in the wake of the disruptions during the Olympic runs in London, Paris and San Francisco caused by demonstrators protesting against China’s recent crackdown in Tibet.

    The torch relay in the central Japan city that hosted the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games is scheduled to start at Zenkoji Temple at 8:30 a.m. and about 100 people are to run a total of 18.5 kilometers.

    Opening events, including a torch-lighting ceremony, are planned at 8 a.m. at a special event space which is to be set up between the temple’s main building and a gate standing near the building.

    The sources said the torch-relay organizing committee is also considering changing the relay route or cutting it short.

    It is also being reported that Coca-Cola Japan has withdrawn its sponsorship of the Nagano relay.

    Update: The rejection has been made. There will be no opening ceremony at Zenkoji Temple. [hat tip to John K]

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