The Olympic flame for the Beijing Winter Games (February 4-20, 2022) was lit at the ancient Greek site of Olympia on Monday, a ceremony briefly disrupted by protesters who unfurled a Tibetan flag before being arrested.
"No Genocide Games" also proclaimed a banner barely unfolded by these demonstrators, arrested by a security employee, according to an AFP photographer.
Only Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou, representatives of the Greek and Chinese Olympic Committees and accredited journalists were present.
For the second time in a row, after the Tokyo Olympics, the traditional ceremony was held behind closed doors due to the global health crisis.
Dressed as a former Greek priestess, actress Xanthi Georgiou lit the flame in a traditional way, thanks to the rays of the sun passing through a parabolic mirror.
"A spirit of peace, friendship and solidarity"
“In these difficult times that we still live in, the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games will be an important moment to bring the world together in a spirit of peace, friendship and solidarity,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
Already in 2008, the flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing Summer Olympics was disrupted in Olympia by activists from Reporters Without Borders (RSF), while several associations called for a boycott of the Games in China.
Once again, calls for a boycott of the Beijing Games and protests around the issue of human rights in China, in particular concerning the Uyghur minority but also in Hong Kong, have multiplied in recent weeks.
On Sunday, three Tibetan activists had already been arrested at the Acropolis of Athens after waving the Tibetan flag and that of the "Hong Kong revolution" at the top of the Acropolis, chanting "Boycott Beijing 2022" and "Free Tibet ".
They will appear Monday afternoon before the Athens prosecutor's office, according to a judicial source.