It is still unclear exactly how many nations will be sending teams to the Moscow Olympics.
GV ZOOM OUT Moldavian landscape near village of Leushenny
GV TRACKING SHOT Runner carrying torch along tree-lined road
GV Trees in bloom
GV Runner passes flame to another runner who runs off
GV War memorial
GV Torch carrier approaches memorial kneels and raises torch
GV Support convoy following runner
GV TRACKING SHOT Convoy entering Kishinev
GV Bus and building with Olympic symbol displayed
GV Torch-bearer and fellow runners run to exchange flame with next runner (a woman) (3 shots)
GV Torch bearer and fellow runners stop in centre of town
MOSCOW OLYMPIC COMMITTEE AND MOSCOW TELEVISION
NO RESTRICTIONS ON SUBSEQUENT COMMERCIAL USE.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: It is still unclear exactly how many nations will be sending teams to the Moscow Olympics. Saturday (24 May) was the closing date for accepting invitations, but the organisers haven't released the final numbers. It is believed that athletes from eighty-one nations will compete -- but more than forty won't be going. Despite the uncertainty, preparations for the games continue in the Soviet Union, including rehearsals for the relay of the Olympic torch to Moscow.
SYNOPSIS: Moldavia, with its pines, poplars and walnut trees, will be the first Soviet Republic to receive the Olympic flame. Local athletes will carry it more than 370 kilometres (230 miles) to the Ukraine.
The relay of the torch from ancient Olympia to the site of the games is one of the most symbolic of the Olympic traditions, and the one least likely to be affected by boycott.
These runners will be receiving the flame from Rumanian athletes in early July as it journeys to Moscow in time for the opening ceremony.
The Olympic route has been specially repaired for the occasion, and new facilities, such as hotels and filling stations, built. The route passes several obelisks and memorials to Soviet dead during the Second World War.
The runners will be supported by a formidable convoy of fellow athletes and vehicles. And stands have been set up for spectators to watch the torch's arrival in Kishinev, the capital of Moldavia. Here, as everywhere, the official symbol of the Moscow Olympics is prominent.
Despite these rehearsals, the doubts still remain over the value of any Olympic medals won after the flame is lit in Moscow on 19th July. At least forty-four nations will not be represented, following President Carter's call for a boycott of the games. Most of those nations deciding at the last minute, however, have agreed to attend. Among them are Australia, Spain, India and Tanzania. The United States, West Germany and Japan are the principal absentees.
The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the boycott call have disrupted the games to a certain extent. But they won't prevent these athletes running one kilometre each of the four thousand eight hundred kilometre (2,982 miles) journey from Olympia to Moscow.