By Nick Butler

Nanjing University student and Youth Olympic volunteer, Liu Yige, was the first Torchbearer ©Nanjing 2014With just two days to go until the start of the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games, a special Torch Relay has been held around the host city to follow the Virtual Relay that has taken place over the last four months.

The Virtual Relay has already provided fans in 258 online locations, including the 204 nations and regions that were due participate at Nanjing 2014, although that figure has since been reduced by the withdrawal of Nigeria and Sierra Leone because of the Ebola crisis, the chance to get involved in the Games via an interactive app.

Since being sent on its way in April with a special Lighting Ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, the Virtual Torch has passed through more than 181 countries, as well as descending 5,000 metres down to the depths of the West Pacific Ocean.

It is hoped this new way of passing on the Youth Olympic Flame will spread the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect to young people around the world regardless of language, time zone or geographical location, Chinese officials claimed. 

These themes have continued with a final, physical leg of the Relay as the host city fully embraces the Youth Olympic spirit.

Major landmarks of Nanjing were filled with spectators as 104 Torchbearers carried the Flame 11,800 meters though the city, with the Relay split into two parts, with each part beginning with a young student Torchbearer in honour of the Youth Olympic participants.

They continued with athletes and major figures from a variety of fields, including two-time Olympic badminton champion, Lin Dan, one of China's finest sportsmen, when he carried the Torch along Nanjing City Wall last Friday (August 8).

Two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan was among the Torchbearers ©Nanjing 2014Two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan was among the Torchbearers ©Nanjing 2014

This was followed by a second port of the Relay on Tuesday (August 12) on the "River Front Route", touring modern scenic points in Nanjing from the Olympic Square in the Youth Olympic Village to the Wanjing Garden Riverfront Square.

An enthusiastic team of 59 Torchbearers carried the Flame over a distance of 6,600m while being greeted by traditional performances along the way to celebrate the occasion.

The Torch Relay is considered "a new combination of the physical and the virtual", with the Nanjing Relay a "physical manifestation of the YOG spirit that made its way around the world in the Virtual Torch Relay".

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