© Reuters. Winter Olympics – Lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics – Historic Olympia, Olympia, Greece – October 18, 2021 A cauldron and flame is held by a performer in the course of the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2022
By Karolos Grohmann
ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (Reuters) – Human rights activists unfurled a banner studying “No Genocide Video games”, waved a Tibetan flag and known as for a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in the course of the torch-lighting ceremony on Monday.
Two girls and a person sneaked previous a good police cordon and entered the archaeological web site of the traditional Greek stadium and temple the place the Olympic flame is historically lit and which had been sealed off for days.
They held up a Tibetan flag seconds after the torch was lit by an actress enjoying the function of excessive priestess on the Temple of Hera just a few metres away.
The three protesters shouted for a boycott of the Video games in Beijing, as invited officers, together with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Worldwide Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, seemed on.
The ceremony itself was not interrupted, as had been the case for the 2008 Beijing Summer time Video games, and the activists, who didn’t attain the precise stadium or temple, had been rapidly led away by police.
Greece’s Olympic Committee (HOC), accountable for organising the occasion, stated it was dissatisfied the ceremony had been used for political functions. The IOC, when requested for a remark, referred to the HOC assertion.
“The lighting of the Olympic flame represents 3000 years of Greek historical past and a dedication to peace and dialogue,” the HOC stated.
“Whereas the HOC respects particular person rights to freedom of expression, it’s disappointing that this conventional cultural occasion has been utilized by just a few people for different functions.”
The Chinese language capital will develop into the primary metropolis to host each the Winter and Summer time Video games when it levels the Feb. 4-20 occasion however protests and requires boycotts over the nation’s human rights document have marred the run-up.
4 different activists had been detained by police outdoors the stadium an hour earlier than the ceremony and brought to the native station. They haven’t been charged. Two extra had been arrested in Athens on Sunday after protesting on the Acropolis monument.
Activists are planning extra protests and a information convention on Tuesday when the flame might be formally handed over to Beijing Video games organisers in Athens.
“The Olympic Video games can’t handle all of the challenges in our world,” Bach stated in his handle inside the traditional stadium previous to the protest.
“However they set an instance for a world the place everybody respects the identical guidelines and each other. They encourage us to unravel issues in friendship and solidarity.”
Rights teams and U.S. lawmakers have known as on the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Video games and relocate the occasion until China ends what america deems ongoing genocide in opposition to Uyghurs and different Muslim minority teams.
Chinese language authorities have been accused of facilitating compelled labour by detaining round one million Uyghurs and different primarily Muslim minorities in camps since 2016.
China denies wrongdoing, saying it has arrange vocational coaching centres to fight extremism.
It was the second time, after the Beijing 2008 Video games, that the torch lighting ceremony was disrupted by protests by human rights activists, who had stormed that ceremony and repeatedly disrupted the worldwide torch relay that adopted.
“Below the strong management of the Chinese language authorities… we are able to and can ship a streamlined, protected and splendid Olympic Video games to the world,” Beijing Video games vice chairman Yu Zaiqing stated.