Washington, D.C. Nov. 12, 2001 (AP)--Plans to carry the Olympic torch past the U.S. Capitol en route to the Winter Olympics could go up in smoke unless Congress grants an exemption to a ban on open flames on Capitol grounds.
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, introduced legislation Friday to allow the Capitol to be included as the torch makes its way to Salt Lake City. A similar exemption was passed in 1996 before the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
The torch will be lit in Athens, Greece, and taken to Atlanta to start its 65-day, 13,500 mile journey across 46 states on Dec. 4. It is scheduled to arrive in Salt Lake City for the opening ceremonies Feb. 8.
It is expected to be brought to the Capitol on Dec. 21. Capitol Police would be in charge of overseeing the torch relay when it visits the grounds.
``Few locations in the country symbolize the American spirit of freedom and quest for excellence more than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.,'' Bennett said. ``Its a perfect backdrop for this wonderful ceremony ushering in the Winter Games.''
The resolution was cosponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Chris Dodd, D-Conn.; and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
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