OLYMPIC GAMES TORCH TO BLAZE A TRAIL THROUGH PACIFIC

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CANBERRA, Australia (November 25, 1998 - AFP)---The torch relay for the 2000 Sydney Olympics will visit 12 Pacific Islands nations.

The torch will also visit Papua New Guinea's infamous Kokoda Trail, scene of one of Australia's crucial battles against Japanese forces in World War II, as part of the 16-day sweep through the South Pacific in 2000.

Prime Minister John Howard and New South Wales Olympics Minister Michael Knight announced the route of the Pacific leg of the torch relay on Wednesday.

By extending the run through the Pacific, the 2000 Olympics will mark the biggest torch relay in the history of the Games.

By the end of the Australian leg, the torch will have been carried by almost 12,000 runners across 60,000 kilometers (37,200 miles) and through 14 countries.

After being lit at a special ceremony in Greece, the Olympic torch will travel to Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and the Solomon Islands before arriving in PNG.

The relay will then visit Vanuatu, Samoa, American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand.

The relay will visit Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in New Zealand.

Michael J Field Agence France-Presse Auckland, New Zealand TEL: (64 21) 688-438 FAX: (64 21) 694-035 E-Mail: afp.nz@clear.net.nz WWW: http://www.afp.com/english/

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