OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY TO TRAVEL THROUGH PALAU, THE NEWEST MEMBER OF THE IOC

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 29, 1999 - PACNEWS)---The Sydney 2000 Olympic torch relay will travel through the Micronesian nation of Palau following the island nation’s admission to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

At its recent meeting in Seoul, the IOC granted full National Olympic Committee (NOC) status to Palau, thereby assuring participation in the Oceania segment of the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch relay.

The Olympic flame will arrive in Palau from Guam on Tuesday, May 23, 2000 and one hundred torch bearers will carry the flame for 40 kilometers (24 miles), culminating in the lighting of a community cauldron at the evening celebration in the capital city, Koror.

The granting of NOC status to Palau and its involvement in the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch relay is seen as a great opportunity for the people of Palau, who will now share in the spirit of the torch relay and play a part in the Olympic history with their neighboring Pacific island countries.

Following the lighting of the torch in Greece, the torch relay will spend 17 days travelling through Oceania visiting Guam, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa, American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand.

The Australian Government is underwriting the costs of the Oceania leg of the torch relay, following a commitment made by Prime Minister John Howard at the South Pacific Forum meeting in September 1997.

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