Activists break into the ignition of the Olympic flame

Three activists denouncing human rights abuses in China stormed the archaeological complex where the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the 2022 Winter Games was taking place on Monday, approaching the torch with a Tibetan flag and a banner reading “ No to the games of genocide ”.

The protesters managed to enter the complex and tried to access the Temple of Hera, where the act was taking place. They were shot down by the police and arrested.

“How can Beijing be allowed to host the Games while committing genocide against the Uighurs?” Asked a protester as she ran to the temple.

The flame was lit in the middle of a large police deployment in the place where the ancient Olympic Games were born, in Greece.

On a clear day, the flame was ceremonially lit by sunlight at the site of Ancient Olympia before lighting a small torch with which a brief relay was started. The event was held without an audience due to measures to combat the pandemic.

Greek police had previously detained other protesters before they could reach the scene. Pro-democracy protesters also erupted during the lighting ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Despite widespread international criticism of China’s human rights record, the International Olympic Committee has sidestepped the issue and claimed that it was outside its purview.

In his speech at the ancient stadium of Olympia, where in ancient times male athletes competed naked during a special truce between cities often at war, IOC President Thomas Bach stressed that the modern Games must “be respected as a neutral political ground.” .

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“Only this political neutrality guarantees that the Olympic Games can stand above and beyond the political differences that exist in our time,” he said. “The Olympic Games cannot solve all the challenges in our world. But they are an example of a world where everyone respects the same rules and everyone else ”.

Activists in favor of the cause of Tibetan rights said in a statement that China intends to “clean up with sport” its human rights abuses “through the glamor and facade of respectability that the Olympic Games provide.”

Referring to the protest, the Greek Olympic Committee said that, while respecting freedom of expression, “it is disappointing that this traditional cultural event is used by a few individuals for other purposes.”

Yu Zaiqing, the vice president of the Beijing organizing committee, said the winters fair will bring “confidence, warmth and hope” during the pandemic, which emerged in China.

Beijing will become the first city in the world to host both the winter and summer games.



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