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Runners carry Olympic torch through Los Angeles

By Eugene Tong The Associated Press
Wednesday January 16, 2002

LOS ANGELES – The Olympic flame returned Tuesday to a city that has hosted the Games twice. 

Excited crowds turned out to watch torch bearers relay the flame through downtown on the Southern California leg of its journey to the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. 

“Los Angeles, better than any other city, has shown that people from all over the world can live side by side, can live in harmony, can live in peace,” City Councilman Alex Padilla told a crowd at historic Olvera Street. “So we take that spirit, the spirit of Los Angeles, and we offer it to the Olympics.” 

The torch relay rekindled memories of the Olympic history of Los Angeles, which staged the Summer Games in 1932 and 1984. 

The torch relay route included a stop at Memorial Coliseum, where track and field events of city’s two Olympics were held. The day’s run was to end with a nighttime event at Universal City’s CityWalk. 

Earlier, the torch was carried through Orange County. Among the runners was Lance Bass, a member of the group ’N Sync. 

As screaming female fans ran nearby to keep up, he used the torch to ignite a cauldron on the back of a pickup that drove the flame from Costa Mesa to Olvera Street, where runners resumed the relay. 

The flame was ignited in Olympia, Greece, and arrived in the United States at Atlanta on Dec. 4. The flame will have been relayed across 46 states and 13,500 miles by the time it reaches Salt Lake City on Feb. 8. for the Winter Games’ opening ceremonies. 

The torch was scheduled to hit the road again on Wednesday, leaving Los Angeles for Pasadena before heading for the Central Coast and ending the day in San Luis Obispo.