December 6, 2021

Olympic flame on its way to Beijing

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International Olympic Committee

19 Oct 2021 – The Olympic flame for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 is on its way to Beijing. During a ceremony in the historic Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, it was handed over today from the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) to the organisers of the next Games.

The ceremony, which took place 24 hours after the lighting of the flame in Ancient Olympia near the Temple of Hera, was attended by IOC Vice-Presidents Ser Miang Ng and Nicole Hoevertsz; the IOC’s Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission Chair, Juan Antonio Samaranch; and IOC Honorary Member Sam Ramsamy. The Chinese delegation was led by IOC Vice-President, Special Representative and Vice-President of Beijing 2022 and Vice-President of the Chinese Olympic Committee Zaiqing Yu. The ceremony was hosted by Hellenic Olympic Committee President and IOC member Spyros Capralos.

Due to the COVID-19 countermeasures, today’s ceremony was held under strict conditions, with only a limited delegation and no spectators present. In addition, the traditional torch relay through Greece could not take place.

The Greek priestesses entered the arena and watched on as Greece’s Εvi Moraitidou, a silver medallist at the Athens Olympics in 2004 in water polo, brought the flame into the stadium.

Li Nina, Olympic silver medallist in freestyle skiing in both 2006 and 2010, from China, then continued the lap of the historic track, before handing the torch to Paraskevi Ladopoulou, a cross-country and biathlon athlete from Greece, who will compete in Beijing 2022 in cross-country, to light a cauldron.

Beijing will write history as the first city to hold both editions of the Olympic Games, winter and summer. The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 aim to connect the Chinese people with the world, bringing to life China’s vision to engage 300 million people with sport on snow and ice.

As a symbol of peace, unity and solidarity, the Olympic flame conveys the values of Olympism to all those who see it on its travels. The flame will help build anticipation amongst Olympic fans eager to witness the world’s best winter sports stars in action, whilst also inspiring thousands of athletes who are making their final preparations for these Games.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Spyros Capralos said: “This unique flame will convey a message of peace and friendship. But it will also carry with it the respect and goodwill of the Greek towards the Chinese people. Two nations that count thousands of years of history and close relations.”

He continued: “Yesterday, the Olympic flame spent the night on the Acropolis, the ultimate symbol of Greece, but also of culture and democracy worldwide. From here, it sent its powerful radiance to the 206 NOCs – members of the International Olympic Committee.”

Adding: “We deliver to you here, at the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896, the sacred Light of Olympism. To carry it to your distant yet beautiful country, to continue the remainder of its journey, sending out messages of peace, friendship, brotherhood and solidarity.”

Zaiqing Yu noted in his address: “In a short while, the Olympic flame will be passed on to Beijing for the second time. As a symbol of the Olympic spirit, the Olympic flame will travel to the Great Wall and across other parts of China, bringing with it the light of peace and friendship.

“As I speak, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging in the world. Under the principle of always placing the lives and health of people front and centre, we will have a different but innovative Olympic flame display and Olympic Torch Relay, one that combines tradition and reality.”

He concluded: “The Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games will open on 4 February 2022. Committed to a green, inclusive, open and clean approach to preparing and hosting the Games, we will deliver streamlined, safe and splendid Games, which hopefully will help promote the Olympic Movement and the building of a global community of shared future.”

A welcome ceremony for the flame will be held in Beijing tomorrow (20 October), with the flame initially going on display to the public at the Beijing Olympic Tower before setting off on a flame exhibition tour. Closer to the Games, a traditional Olympic Torch Relay will be held. More information will be announced by the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee after the arrival ceremony.

Around 2,900 athletes, representing approximately 85 National Olympic Committees, will compete in what will be the most gender-balanced Olympic Winter Games in history, between 4 and 20 February 2022.

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