Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou, playing the role of an ancient Greek High Priestess, lights a torch during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, in ancient Olympia, Greece, Oct. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)
The lighting of the Olympic flame in Ancient Olympia represents another milestone for Beijing 2022, which will welcome the world's best athletes at a simple, safe and wonderful Olympic Winter Games.
ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- After the Olympic flame was ignited here on Monday, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG) took it as an important milestone for Beijing 2022.
"The traditional ceremony is inherited from ancient times. It represents light, justice, peace and unity, and is the noble symbol of the Olympic spirit," said BOCOG vice president Yu Zaiqing.
Special representative and vice president of Beijing 2022 Yu Zaiqing addresses the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, in Ancient Olympia, Greece, Oct. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
Having witnessed the flame lightening ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, Yu, a special representative of Beijing 2022, said it felt different this time coming to Greece again.
"Hosting the Winter Olympics makes Beijing the first ever city to host both the Summer Games (2008) and the Winter Games (2022)," said Yu, also vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). "There may be more cities like this in the future, but it means something special for Beijing as the first such city."
"The Winter Olympics has also called for 300 million Chinese people to participate in winter sports, which will improve physical well-being of the public through winter sports," Yu noted. "As more people participate in winter sports, the sports industry in China will see rapid development and our competitiveness on the international stage will be further improved."
Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou (R, front), playing the role of the High Priestess, passes the flame to first torchbearer, Greek Alpine ski racer Ioannis Antoniou during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, in Ancient Olympia, Greece, Oct. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
The flame will be handed over by the Greek Olympic Committee to BOCOG on Tuesday at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens as scheduled. The Beijing 2022 organizers will then board a flight to take it back on the same day.
According to Yu, a series of activities including the torch relay will start after the Olympic flame arrives in China.
"Through the torch relay, we hope to show the world that China can host a successful Olympic Winter Games," Yu said. "At the same time, it also means that the preparations for the Winter Olympics have entered the final sprint."
"All competition stadiums are completed and test events are underway. This Winter Games will face the issue of pandemic prevention and control like never before," Yu said. "We are currently working with the IOC, and other National Olympic Committees to figure out a pandemic prevention and control plan to not only ensure the health and safety of all athletes, but also a simple, safe and wonderful Winter Olympics." ■