Beijing Olympic torch relay begins under Covid-19 measures

Beijing, Feb 2 (EFE).- The 2022 Winter Games Olympic torch relay began Wednesday under preventive Covid-19 measures in China’s capital, which will hold the opening ceremony Friday.

The relays, which will last until Friday, will see 1,200 carriers aged 14 to 86 according to the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee.

Among them are prominent Chinese figures from fields such as “science, education and culture” and foreign representatives from some 20 different countries, according to the committee.

The first bearers of the torch, made of carbon fiber, were Luo Zhihuan, 81, one of China’s first winter athletes, astronaut Jing Haipeng and the designer of China’s space probe Chang’e 1, Ye Peijian.

As a pandemic containment measure, relays will take place practically behind closed doors in 12 different segments, one of which is located within the closed circuit, also called a bubble, in which athletes and workers from abroad remain isolated from the local population during their stay in the Chinese capital.

All participants in the event, with the exception of the bearers while carrying the torch, must wear N95-grade masks and comply with social distancing regulations.

The route of the torch, bearer of the Olympic flame that landed in October from Greece, includes the three Beijing 2022 venues: Beijing itself and Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, 80 kilometers and 180 kilometers respectively from the center of the capital. The city will become the first in the world to have hosted the Winter and Summer Games.

The torch will pass through some of the most emblematic places in Beijing such as the Great Wall and the Summer Palace.

Robots and autonomous cars will participate in some of the relays.

Tickets will not be sold to spectators from abroad and only “designated spectators” who meet the “requirements of preventive measures against the pandemic” will be allowed to attend, the organizing committee announced last month.

Friday’s opening ceremony, directed by local filmmaker Zhang Yimou, will be attended by world leaders such as the Russian President Vladimir Putin and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Representatives of countries such as the United States and Australia, which in recent months announced a diplomatic boycott of Beijing for what they consider human rights abuses by the Chinese government, will not be present.

Beijing 2022 will be the third consecutive Olympic event held in Asia, after the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea and the Tokyo 2020 Games in Japan, and will also be the first winter modality hosted by China. EFE


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