BRATISLAVA Slovak officials rejected the overwhelming results of a popular Internet campaign to name a new pedestrian and cycling bridge near the capital after U.S. action film star Chuck Norris.
Despite 12,599 votes for the Norris name in a two-month online poll, Bratislava regional assembly decided to call the bridge spanning the Morava river and Slovakia's border with Austria the "Freedom Cycling-Bridge" in memory of people killed attempting to escape communist eastern Europe.
The assembly's choice earned only 457 votes in the online poll, where it was easily outshone by other proposed names, including "Maria Theresa" after an Austro-Hungarian empress and "the Devinska cycling bridge" in honour of a nearby village.
"We have unanimously voted for the Freedom Cycling-Bridge," Bratislava region chairman Pavol Freso told reporters.
"It truly is a place where people were running for freedom through barbed wire, it is a place where many have died, so this is a dignified way how to honour these people."
Slovakia, once part of the former Czechoslovakia, has a 107 km border with Austria and many people died trying to flee the communist regime before its collapse in 1989.
Norris, a martial arts expert-turned film star, is known for playing tough guy characters in such classic movies as "Lone Wolf McQuade", "Missing in Action" and "The Delta Force".
The actor's work has become a popular source of kitschy fun among Slovaks and a mainstay for local jokes about macho strength and invincibility.
(Reporting by Martin Santa, editing by Paul Casciato)
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