BEIJING: The Winter Olympics torch relay kicked off in Beijing on Wednesday as China’s capital gears as much as host the worldwide sporting occasion towards a backdrop of diplomatic boycotts and the coronavirus pandemic.
Greater than 1,000 torchbearers will carry the flame by way of competitors areas in Beijing and the neighbouring metropolis of Zhangjiakou — internet hosting occasions similar to cross-country snowboarding and ski leaping — earlier than the opening ceremony on Friday night.
Audiences for the torch relay shall be strictly restricted with China encouraging its individuals to observe the occasion on-line relatively than attempt to catch a glimpse of the procession in particular person.
The primary three runners within the relay have been Luo Zhihuan, an 80-year-old former velocity skater who gained China’s first winter sport world championship title in 1963, astronaut Jing Haipeng, in addition to Chang’e 1 satellite tv for pc designer Ye Peijian, in line with Beijing Every day.
The torch’s journey to Beijing started in October with activists unfurling banners accusing China of human rights abuses on the flame-lighting ceremony within the Olympic religious homeland of Greece.
A number of nations together with the USA, Australia, Britain and Canada have introduced diplomatic boycotts of the Video games over China’s human rights report together with its therapy of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and a crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.
Beijing has condemned the boycott and is decided to tug off a Video games that can burnish its worldwide repute.
As the one remaining main world economic system to nonetheless be pursuing a zero-Covid technique, China is taking no probabilities with the Olympics.
The occasion is being held inside a strict sealed “bubble” with no contact between individuals and the general public to cease any infections leaking into the broader inhabitants.
The flame arrived in Beijing in October after it skipped the normal torch relay on Greek soil resulting from coronavirus considerations.