Games relay goal: to tour the world and all China Organisers of the Beijing Olympics yesterday unveiled an ambitious route for a torch relay that would cross five continents and all of China in 130 days ahead of the Games' opening in August next year. The route includes Mount Everest and Taiwan, although the latter was last night rejected by Taipei. Bocog president Liu Qi said the torch would be carried around the world in a 'journey of harmony' covering 137,000km in 130 days, 97 of them in China. 'It will be a relay that covers the longest distance, is most inclusive and involves the most people in modern Olympic history,' he said. The route was unveiled by Politburo Standing Committee member Luo Gan and International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge after the IOC's executive board approved it yesterday. The flame will be lit in Athens and the relay will start in Beijing and go to Almaty, Kazakhstan. The torch will be carried through 18 countries and five continents - Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia, including North Korea. Before officials in Taipei raised their objections, the route was planned to go from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Taipei, and from there to Hong Kong and Macau. The flame will arrive in the mainland on March 31 and travel to 113 cities and regions, including Lhasa in Tibet . Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games vice-president Jiang Xiaoyu said the ancient Silk Road was the inspiration for the route. Eleven out of the 19 international cities along the route are along the Silk Road. A senior IOC official said the route could change before the relay began. A second torch will be carried to Mount Everest, where a team will try to take it to the summit in May. The torch's design, a red-and-silver tube 72cm tall and shaped like a Chinese scroll, was chosen from among 300 competing entries. It was unveiled yesterday by State Councilor Chen Zhili and Hein Verbruggen, head of the IOC body that co-ordinates with the Beijing Games organisers. Developed by a team at computer maker Lenovo the torch boasts technological innovations to keep it lit in winds of up to 65km/h and in rain of up to 50mm/h. Mr Rogge said the relay embodied the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship and would add a Chinese note to the Olympic flame. 'By travelling along the historic Silk Road, a symbol of ancient trade links between China and the rest of the world, crossing the five continents and going to new places ... I have no doubt the Beijing 2008 Olympic torch relay will leave many extraordinary memories and create new dreams for people around the world,' said Mr Rogge. Beijing has viewed the torch relay as an opportunity to promote China's international image ahead of the Olympics and as a political test. Organisers have vowed to make the relay highlight the country's culture and 'national character', with Taiwan and Mount Everest included on their route. But officials did not provide details of any contingency measures they planned to take to tackle what they described as trouble-makers, including followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, supporters of separatism in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang , and pro-democracy and human rights groups.