Olympic flame lit for 2022 Beijing Winter Games

By: AFP      Published: 05:45 PM, 18 Oct, 2021
Olympic flame lit for 2022 Beijing Winter Games
Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou, playing the role of the High Priestess, holds up the lit torch during the flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Ancient Olympia archeological site, birthplace of the ancient Olympics in southern Greece.

The Olympic flame for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games was lit in Olympia on Monday in the presence of IOC president Thomas Bach.

Following tradition, the flame was lit from the rays of the sun at the ancient Temple of Hera, the cradle of the Ancient Games.

Activists unfurl Tibet flag at Beijing Olympics flame ceremony

Activists unfurled a Tibetan flag and a banner that said "no genocide" at the flame-lighting ceremony for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in Greece on Monday.

The demonstrators produced the flag and the banner following the ceremony in Olympia attended by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

Security guards forced the demonstrators, who were standing in the ruins of the site of the Ancient Olympics, to take down the flag and the banner and detained the activists.

The incident, which came a day after Tibet activists staged a demonstration at the Acropolis in Athens calling for a boycott of next year's Games, shows the potential protests that the first Olympics in China since 2008 face.

Tibet has alternated over the centuries between independence and control by China, which says it "peacefully liberated" the rugged plateau in 1951 and brought infrastructure and education to the previously underdeveloped region.

But many exiled Tibetans accuse the Chinese central government of religious repression and eroding their culture.

Following tradition, the Olympic flame was lit from the rays of the sun in the ruins of the ancient Temple of Hera, the cradle of the Ancient Games.

"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 in a speech before the demonstrators produced the flag.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, the ceremony was held in front of an audience limited to the members of the International Olympic Committee, the Greek and Chinese Olympic committees, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and vaccinated members of the media.

In a break with tradition, there will be no torch relay on Greek soil.

Instead, the flame is due to be carried to the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, a second-century arena used in both the 1896 and 2004 Games, and on Tuesday it will be handed over to the delegation from Beijing 2022 to be flown to China.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.