Olympics Flame Arrives in Beijing Ahead of 2022 Winter Games
The Olympic flame on Wednesday arrived in Beijing ahead of the 2022 winter games.
A flight with the flame on board landed in Beijing ahead of the welcome ceremony at the Beijing Olympic Tower near the National Stadium and will be there for a while before going on display in other Chinese cities as well.
It was transported from Athens on Tuesday and traveled to Beijing in a red lantern designed in the likeness of a Han Dynasty tomb artifact, carried by torchbearers decked in white.
It will now be on display at Beijing’s Olympic Park.
Up to 1,200 torchbearers will carry the flame through the three cities of Beijing, Yanqing, and the district of Zhangjiakou in February 2022 which are the competition venues.
Beijing winter games are set to be held from 4th to 20th February 2022 with approximately 2,900 athletes, representing 85 National Olympic Committees staged to compete and this will see Beijing become the first city to host both winter and summer games.
Cai Qi, head of the Beijing Municipal Committee and Beijing Games organizing committee, lit a cauldron at Olympic Tower.
However, rights groups have called for a boycott of the Beijing Games to protest what they termed as human rights atrocities in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong.
China rejects those claims and has repeatedly swatted aside talk of a boycott as “politicizing sport”.
During the flame lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece, activists grabbed the spotlight by unfurling a Tibetan flag and a banner that read “no genocide” before Greek police intervened.
Another similar protest was held on Sunday at the Acropolis in Athens, where activists held up a “Free Hong Kong” sign. Two people were arrested.
In a news conference in the Greek capital on Tuesday,
Human rights activists urged governments and athletes worldwide on Tuesday to boycott the Beijing Games, saying that anything less would make the world complicit in tolerating what they called “genocide” by Beijing adding that more than one million Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang have been held in camps in recent years, their rights to worship and freedoms heavily curtailed by Chinese authorities.
“We are in Athens to tell the international community that the Olympic Games are being handed over to a country actively committing a genocide,” Uighur-Canadian activist Zumretay Arkin told reporters.
Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has dismissed talk of a potential boycott, stressing the global sporting body’s political neutrality and saying it was up to governments to live up to their responsibilities.
“In these difficult times we are still living through, the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 will be an important moment to bring the world together in a spirit of peace, friendship, and solidarity,” Bach said on Monday.
It will be the second Olympics to be held under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic after the Tokyo Games earlier this year.
Athletes competing in Beijing will face strict rules to contain the risk of COVID-19 cases.
Participants will stay in a “closed-loop” bubble to thwart infections, with athletes having to be either fully vaccinated or face 21 days’ quarantine.
Overseas spectators will be excluded from the Games, meaning that tickets to the events will only be sold to people living in China.
China has largely sealed its borders since the virus emerged in its central city of Wuhan towards the end of 2019, which has slowed the number of daily injections.