Sun, 05 Dec 2021

Athens [Greece], October 19 (ANI): The Olympic flame for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 is on its way to Beijing.

During a ceremony in the historic Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Tuesday, it was handed over by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) to the organisers of the next Games.

The ceremony, which took place 24 hours after the lighting of the flame in Ancient Olympia near the Temple of Hera, was attended by International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice-Presidents Ser Miang Ng and Nicole Hoevertsz; the IOC's Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission Chair, Juan Antonio Samaranch; and IOC Honorary Member Sam Ramsamy.

The Chinese delegation was led by IOC Vice-President, Special Representative and Vice-President of Beijing 2022 and Vice-President of the Chinese Olympic Committee Zaiqing Yu. The ceremony was hosted by Hellenic Olympic Committee President and IOC member Spyros Capralos.

Due to the COVID-19 countermeasures, the ceremony was held under strict conditions, with only a limited delegation and no spectators present. In addition, the traditional torch relay through Greece could not take place.

The Greek priestesses entered the arena and watched on as Greece's Evi Moraitidou, a silver medallist at the Athens Olympics in 2004 in water polo, brought the flame into the stadium.

Li Nina, Olympic silver medallist in freestyle skiing in both 2006 and 2010, from China, then continued the lap of the historic track, before handing the torch to Paraskevi Ladopoulou, a cross-country and biathlon athlete from Greece, who will compete in Beijing 2022 in cross-country, to light a cauldron.

Beijing will write history as the first city to hold both editions of the Olympic Games, winter and summer. The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 aim to connect the Chinese people with the world, bringing to life China's vision to engage 300 million people with sport on snow and ice.

"This unique flame will convey a message of peace and friendship. But it will also carry with it the respect and goodwill of the Greeks towards the Chinese people. Two nations that count thousands of years of history and close relations" said Spyros Capralos in an official IOC release.

"Yesterday, the Olympic flame spent the night on the Acropolis, the ultimate symbol of Greece, but also of culture and democracy worldwide. From here, it sent its powerful radiance to the 206 NOCs - members of the International Olympic Committee," he added.

A welcome ceremony for the flame will be held in Beijing on Wednesday, with the flame initially going on display to the public at the Beijing Olympic Tower before setting off on a flame exhibition tour.

Closer to the Games, a traditional Olympic Torch Relay will be held. More information will be announced by the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee after the arrival ceremony.

Around 2,900 athletes, representing approximately 85 National Olympic Committees, will compete in what will be the most gender-balanced Olympic Winter Games in history, between 4 and 20 February 2022. (ANI)

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