Beijing Games Torch Relay Confined to Closed Venues Due to COVID

Beijing Communist Party Secretary and Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee Chairman Cai Qi receives an Olympic flame torch at the flame reception ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. October 20, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File

BEIJING, Jan 21 (Reuters) – The Beijing Winter Olympics torch relay will be isolated from the public due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, organizers said on Friday.

The relay, which will include 1,200 torchbearers, will start on February 2 and end two days later when the Games open in the capital and neighboring Hebei province.

“This torch relay will always put safety first,” Yang Haibin, an official with the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau, told a briefing.

“Taking into account factors such as epidemic prevention … the torch relay and ceremonial activities will be organized in closed, safe and controllable places.”

Beijing, the first city to host the Summer and Winter Games, is on high alert for the coronavirus after a handful of small outbreaks in various parts of the country to which authorities have responded with sweeping restrictions and mass testing.

All torchbearers must be vaccinated and will be tested for the virus and have their health monitored for 14 days before the relay.

The relay route, which will be much shorter than the previous ones, will include a stop at the Great Wall, the most iconic site in China, as well as the Olympic parks in central Beijing, the Summer Palace, among other places.

The flame of the Beijing Winter Games was lit in Greece in an October ceremony that was interrupted by human rights activists.

Preparations for the Games have been complicated by COVID-19, as well as a diplomatic boycott by several countries, including the United States, over China’s human rights record. Beijing says that betrays Olympic principles and denies rights abuses.

(Reporting by Yin Xiaoyu, Muyu Xu, and Tony Munroe. Editing in Spanish by Javier Leira)

Leave a Comment