The Olympic The flame arrived in Beijing on Wednesday amid calls from foreign critics to boycott the Winter Games February 4-20.
Beijing Communist Party Secretary Cai Qi, the Chinese capital’s top official, received the flame in a ceremony at the closely watched airport.
Beijing successfully hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, although the event failed to produce the more open political and social environment in China than many had hoped.
HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVITIES ASK FOR BOYCOTT OF BEIJING WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES
Activist groups disrupted the flame-lighting ceremony in southern Greece on Monday, accusing the International Olympic Committee of granting legitimacy to rights violations in China. IOC officials said they were determined to see the competition unfold and rights issues were not within their remit.
Speaking in the old stadium in Olympia, IOC President Thomas Bach said the Games should be “respected as a politically neutral ground”.
Activists said Tuesday that human rights in China have deteriorated since 2008, saying the Summer Games “emboldened” China. During these years, Communist Party leader Xi Jinping consolidated his power over virtually all aspects of Chinese society.
Beijing is the first city to be awarded the rights to host the Summer and Winter Games, in large part due to the reluctance of European and North American cities to bid for the 2022 edition.
Human rights activists, meanwhile, say China’s oppression of political critics, as well as minority groups, including Tibetan Buddhists and Muslim Uyghurs, and a crackdown in Hong Kong should spur athletes on and politicians to avoid games.
China says spectators from outside China will not be allowed to attend the Winter Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and athletes must stay in a bubble to guard against the spread of the coronavirus . China has largely eradicated national transmission of the disease, the first cases of which were detected in the central city of Wuhan in China in late 2019.
At Wednesday’s handing-over ceremony, Beijing Deputy Mayor Zhang Jiandong said the city is committed to hosting “Simple, Safe and Great Games.”
China and the IOC have collaborated to design a truncated torch relay that reduces the number of routes and personnel involved, Zhang said.
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“We insist on prioritizing public health and safety, and coordinate the torch relay with the requirements of pandemic control and prevention,” Zhang said.
The flame will be on display over the next few months, with a three-day relay scheduled for Feb. 2, involving around 1,200 torchbearers in Beijing, a suburb of Yanqing and Zhangjiakou in neighboring Hebei Province, where the ski jumping and other outdoor events will be organized. tenuous.
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