Beijing Olympics


Olympic Torch Tops Mount Everest Under Cloud of Controversy

May 08, 2008 06:06 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
by Cara McDonough
China makes history as the Olympic torch reaches the world’s highest peak, but critics of China’s policies see no reason to celebrate.

30-Second Summary

The 19-member Everest torch team camped at 27,390 feet before dawn and reached the summit of the 29,035-foot mountain mid-morning on Thursday.

The Chinese government made sure to highlight ethnic unity even at the top of the world: the Everest team was comprised of both Han Chinese and Tibetan members and the final torchbearers were both Tibetans.

But despite China’s fanfare surrounding the historic event, critics—including one outspoken member of the climbing community—still point to the country’s human rights policies, especially regarding Tibet, as a major conflict underscoring this year’s Olympic Games.

 “The fact that the Chinese government has been able to turn the highest mountain on Earth into a police state is unforgiveable,” says Luis Benitez, a climber who has scaled Everest six times. Benitez was going to climb Everest again this year but pulled out in protest of the China Olympic games.

Protests following this year’s torch relay and the Olympics in general are nothing new. Before the 85,000-mile relay even began, numerous demonstrations cast the event in an uncertain light. And protests followed the torch on its journey, disrupting the relay in Paris, where torch carriers had to finish their route on a bus.

Although some doubted that the protest-addled torch would ever make it up Everest, it reached the peak carried by a 19-member climbing team dressed in red parkas complete with the Olympic logo.

Watch live video of the torch reaching Everest’s peak from the Associated Press (narrative is in Chinese).

Headline Links: Olympic torch reaches Everest peak

Background: Climbing preparation and prior protests

Reference: The 2008 torch relay and the Olympic Games


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines