A loving kiss on the nose from 75-year-old torchbearer Ji Shaolin was the highlight of yesterday's Olympic torch relay in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province.
The receiver of the kiss was not a person, but rather a bronze statue of Juan Antonio Samaranch, former president of the International Olympic Committee.
Ji was running through Olympic Park - built to celebrate Qinhuangdao being named as a co-host city - when he came upon the statue.
With a smile on his face, he raised the torch in the air and kissed Samaranch’s statue on the nose.
"He is an old friend of China's," the retired archivist said.
"I wanted to share with him the joy I felt at being a torchbearer and the fact our city was chosen as a co-host for the Olympics."
Samaranch became a household name in China after he announced in 2001 that Beijing had won the bid to host this year's Olympic Games.
"He is much loved here in Qinhuangdao," Ji, who helped promote China's bid and subsequently the Games by riding his bicycle across the country, said.
"We won't forget the part he played in bringing the Olympics to China," Something the Chinese are overjoyed about.
"The statue's nose is very shiny because people who see the bust want to stop and touch it.
"That would be impolite if it really was him, but kissing the bust is a just gesture of friendship," he said.
Yesterday's relay began at Shanhaiguan Pass, the eastern end of the Great Wall near Bohai Bay, about 30 km from downtown Qinhuangdao.
It was the torch's second visit to the Wall, after earlier visiting the Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu province in Northwest China.
Xi Enting, the former table tennis world champion and current coach of the national team, ran the opening leg.
The relay continues today in the city of Tangshan, which was hit by an earthquake in 1976.
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）
Dylan Quinnell is a freelance journalist and photographer from New Zealand who has worked in TV, print, film and online. With a strong interest in international affairs, he has worked in Denmark, Indonesia and Australia, covering issues like the EU, indigenous people and deforestation. Dylan is in Beijing on an Asia New Zealand grant working as a copy editor for the English news department.