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Beijing 2022 torch relay to take on new look

23 January 2022 12:12

BEIJING. KAZINFORM The torch relay for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics promises to be an exciting and innovative prelude to the Games, with its highlights including a visit to the Great Wall and the participation of robots.

The torch relay of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will take place at 12 locations across three host areas-Beijing's downtown, its northwest Yanqing district and co-host Zhangjiakou, Hebei province-from Feb 2-4 with about 1,200 torchbearers involved, the Beijing 2022 organizing committee announced at a media briefing on Friday, China Daily reports.

The relay for the second Olympic Games in the Chinese capital, which had hosted the 2008 summer Games, features a much smaller scale and fewer torchbearers compared to the traditional torch relays at all the previous Games before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike the traditional format, in which each leg connects with the next one to complete a seamless route, the Beijing 2022 event will see the Olympic flame exchanged between a set number of legs at each of the locations scattered across the three zones.

Torchbearers at each of the 12 spots will only take part in the relays at their own location, without actually having to pass the flame on to the next venue.

The arrangement of having separate relay activities reflects the goal of hosting a green and inclusive Games in a «streamlined, safe and splendid» manner, said Xu Zhijun, a deputy secretary-general of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee.

«The scaled-down format will help minimize the relay event's influence on the city's operations and people's everyday lives, and prevent mass gatherings in the host areas, which meets pandemic prevention and control requirements,» he said at the briefing.

«In this way, the safety of all the torchbearers and participants is better guaranteed, while pandemic-control protocols are more efficiently implemented.»

However, a selected group of public representatives will be allowed to watch the relays from up close and cheer the torchbearers at each of the locations after they meet certain pandemic control requirements, Xu added.

The Olympic flame will start its journey at the Olympic Forest Park in Beijing's northern downtown on Feb 2 after a launch ceremony before touring the park and the Winter Olympic Park in western Beijing. A special segment at the Winter Olympic Park in the afternoon will see two robotic torchbearers exchange the flame underwater on the banks of the Yongding River, the first such event of its kind in the history of the Winter Olympics.

The relay continues the next day at the Great Wall's Badaling section, where the 2008 Summer Games' torch also passed, and then visits the International Grape Exhibition Garden in Yanqing before traveling to co-host city Zhangjiakou, where the flame will be exchanged at five local landmarks, including Desheng Village and Fulong Ski Resort in Chongli district.

On the morning of the Games' opening day of Feb 4, the torch returns to Beijing to be relayed at the Summer Palace, the Olympic Forest Park for a second time and the Grand Canal Forest Park, to cap the three-day journey ready to be carried into the opening ceremony to light the Games' main cauldron.

For the Winter Paralympic Games, which run from March 4-13, a three-day torch relay will also be carried out in a similar fashion in the three zones as well. A flame gathering ceremony will be held on March 2 at the Temple of Heaven, where sparks collected from eight places across the three zones will be joined by the flame ignited in Stoke Mandeville, United Kingdom, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games.

The torch will then be relayed at nine locations in the three zones involving about 600 torchbearers, including some exceptional para athletes and their coaches.

Keywords: Sport, China,