Preparing to Carry the Olympic Torch

Wednesday's Olympic torch relay in San Francisco will involve heavy security after earlier protests over the human rights record of the host nation, China. Anni Chung, president and CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly, is among 80 torch bearers set to participate.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


In San Francisco, the torch will be carried by not one but 80 runners, among them 35 winners of an essay contest, and five people handpicked by Mayor Gavin Newsom.


One of those five is Anni Chung, who is president and CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly, which is based in San Francisco. She says that she gladly accepted the mayor's invitation to run. And she's also accepted our invitation to talk with us. Hi, how are you?

Ms. ANNI CHUNG (CEO, Self-Help for the Elderly): How are you Robert? I'm good, thank you.

SIEGEL: Are you excited about being a torch bearer?

Ms. CHUNG: Yes, very.

SIEGEL: Are you a runner normally?

Ms. CHUNG: No, not really. So, I'm actually a little bit glad that the distance won't be that long.

SIEGEL: It's just a few miles and 80 people. Do you know how far you're going to run, and how much security you'll have with the torch given what's happened elsewhere?

Ms CHUNG: I think as of yesterday, we were going to run only, about, maybe, 250 meters. But this morning, there were some discussions about even shortening that.

SIEGEL: Was that out of concerns for security or what?

Ms. CHUNG: Yes, because I think this morning's paper said that some of the protestors might do some more civil disobedience. We don't know what that means. So, probably for safety sake, maybe the route is controlled a little bit more.

SIEGEL: I understand that you were born in Hong Kong…

Ms. CHUNG: Yes, born and raised in Hong Kong.

SIEGEL: Do you agree with the anti-China protests that have caused such a stir so far elsewhere?

Ms. CHUNG: You know, I believe that everyone has the right to protest and express his or her own opinion. But this torch relay is part of a bigger tradition. And definitely, the Olympics belongs to the world, and not just one single country. So I hope that the protestors will be able to express their opinions in a very peaceful manner so that the tradition of the Olympic torch could continue to symbolize, really, world peace and sportsmanship.

SIEGEL: And for people who have been especially concerned and disturbed by what they've read or heard about protests by Tibetans and the Chinese government's response to those protests, what do you say?

Ms. CHUNG: I abhor violence, Robert. And, you know, whether the part on China's part or the protesters' part. Any time violence takes place, the cause itself, I think, is a little bit compromised.

So, I hope that China will be able to sit down with Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people and really engage in conversation about how to bring up more progress, you know, to Tibet. But at the same time, I hope that the protestors will not take this Olympic as an opportunity to fall with their agenda at the expense of a lot of athletes who have been working so hard to try to compete in the August Olympics.

SIEGEL: Well, back to tomorrow's events, are you - have you done anything in particular to practice or to prepare for your role as a torch bearer, one of - of course dozens, but one of those in San Francisco.

Ms. CHUNG: I will try to hold on to the torch, Robert, number one.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Probably a good idea.

Ms. CHUNG: Yes, and I think if we are to run or walk the two and half blocks, I should be able to do it. I'm relatively fit.

SIEGEL: Good. I'm sure. Well, Anni, thanks a lot for talking with us. And…

Ms. CHUNG: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: …we'll see you tomorrow. Anni Chung is president and CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly, which is based in San Francisco. And she is one of 80 people who will carry the Olympic torch through San Francisco tomorrow.

NORRIS: And we're planning to talk again with Anni Chung so we can find out about her experience running with that Olympic torch.

SIEGEL: You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.