OLD OLYMPIA. Greece – Three activists protesting human rights abuses in China sneaked into the archaeological site where the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics flame ceremony was taking place on Monday and ran towards the newly lit torch with a Tibetan flag and banner with the « No genocide games » written on. «
The demonstrators managed to enter the premises and tried to reach the Hera Temple, where the ceremony was taking place. They were thrown to the ground and arrested by the police.
« How can Beijing be allowed to host the Olympic Games because they are committing genocide against the Uyghurs? » said a protester, referring to the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.
The flame was lit under close police surveillance at the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games in southern Greece.
In camera amid pandemic security measures and In a cloudless sky over the green site of ancient Olympia, the flame was solemnly lit with the sun’s rays before it was carried on a mini torch relay.
Previously, other demonstrators were arrested by the Greek police before they could reach the site. During the light ceremony for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, pro-democratic protests broke out.
Despite widespread international criticism of China’s human rights record, the International Olympic Committee has shied away from the topic and has declared that it does not fall within its remit.
In In his speech in the ancient stadium of Olympia, where in antiquity male athletes competed naked against each other during a special truce between their often warring cities, IOC President Thomas Bach emphasized that the modern games “must be respected as politically neutral ground”.
« Only this political neutrality ensures that the Olympic Games can survive the political differences of our time, » he said. “The Olympic Games cannot meet all the challenges of our world. But they are an example of a world in which everyone respects the same rules and each other. ”
Tibetan human rights activists said in a press release that China is attempting its human rights violations“ with the glamor and appearance of seriousness that the Olympics have The Greek National Olympic Committee commented on the protest, saying that while it respects freedom of expression, “it is disappointing that this traditional cultural event is being used by a few people for other purposes « .
In a tightly choreographed performance, a Greek actress knelt shortly afterwards in the role of a pagan priestess to ignite the Olympic flame by focusing the sun’s rays with a bowl-shaped mirror on a torch filled with fuel.
In front of the few remaining columns of the destroyed, 2,600 year old Hera Temple st Before that, she said a symbolic prayer for the ancient Greek god of light, Apollo, to ignite the flame.
« Mountains fall silent, birds chirp, » she intoned as a TV drone hummed overhead and droves of Photographers clicked their shutters.
Yu Zaiqing, vice president of the Beijing Organizing Committee, said the games brought « confidence, warmth and hope » during the pandemic that first hit China.
« We can and will bring the world streamlined, safe, and great Olympics, ”he said.
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The police were at and around the archaeological site where the ancient games from 776 BC. Anyone who wanted to go to the venue had to get accreditation and pass through checkpoints and metal detectors.
Two demonstrators were arrested on Sunday at the Acropolis in Athens who tried to hoist a banner to draw attention to human rights violations in China.
The Olympic flame will be brought to Athens and handed over to the organizers of Beijing on Tuesday in the renovated stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896.
The Beijing Winter Games will take place from 4th to 20th February. Only spectators from mainland China are allowed to participate. Everyone at the Olympics – including athletes – is expected to be vaccinated or quarantined for 21 days.
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