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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (June 20, 1998 - Samoa News)---American Samoa will "definitely" be part of the Olympic Torch Relay leading up to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, say local Olympic officials.

American Samoa National Olympic Committee (ASNOC) spokesperson Ben Solaita said the territory definitely will be taking part in the torch relay, but details of the route have not yet been made final.

However, Solaita said American Samoa has already set up its torch run route, although there probably will be some modifications later on.

"We have already submitted our program to the Committee and they told us American Samoa was the only one with a plan," Solaita explained.

The ASNOC torch relay route plan was submitted to Andrea Coss, Assistant Manager to the Torch Relay Committee, when she visited American Samoa about three weeks ago. She was also given a tour of the proposed run, which will take about six hours over approximately 24 miles.

Solaita said they are also keeping in mind the large contingent of people, media and officials, traveling with the torch.

Sources earlier told Samoa News that the Olympic torch is expected to arrived in American Samoa around May 21, 2000, but that information could not be confirmed.

According to Australian Olympic officials, at some Pacific Island venues the Olympic torch to be on the ground for as little time as an hour.

So far the Australian government has pledged $US 2 million toward the cost of taking the torch to the Pacific Islands.

Besides American Samoa, other countries on the torch relay route include: Fiji, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Guam, Samoa, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Negotiations are continuing with Kiribati and Palau.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to samoanews@samoatelco.com

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