Chinese VP Gets Beijing 2022 Torch Relay Under Way

Story Highlights
  • The torch relay ceremony was a low-key celebration at the Olympic Forest Park.
  • Chinese Vice President Han Zheng ignited the torch with the Olympic flame.
  • 1200 torch bearers would traverse the torch through the three host zones.

Beijing: A shortened Winter Olympics torch relay kicked off in Beijing on Wednesday as China’s capital gears up to host the Games against a backdrop of diplomatic boycotts and the pandemic.

Vice Premier Han Zheng ignited the torch with the Olympic flame and handed it over to the first torchbearer, 80-year-old Luo Zhihua. Luo won the gold medal in the men’s 1500m speed skating in the 57th World Speed Skating Championships. With barely a few special guests at the ceremony in Olympic Forest Park in northern Beijing, the general public was restricted from watching the relay in person. Out of these included 135 torchbearers including astronaut Jing Haipeng, former NBA player Yao Ming, and film director Zhang Yimou, who will direct the opening ceremony Friday.

The Wednesday’s event that began under cold clear skies would continue for three days, as 1,200 torchbearers would traverse the torch through the three host zones of the Games – the downtown area and Yanqing District of Beijing and Zhangjiakou of neighbouring Hebei Province.

Though being held in a closed bubble, coronavirus infections across the participants have been scoring day by day. According to the latest release on the official website of the organization, 32 infections were found on February 1st. Fifteen were among new airport arrivals, it said on the Games’ official website, with 17 in the “closed-loop” bubble that separates all event personnel from the public. In a fresh update today, officials informed that the manager of India’s Winter Olympics contingent, Mohammad Abbas Wani, had tested positive for the virus after being tested on arrival.

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