Three Chinese activists ran into an archaeological site to protest human rights violations in China. They ran towards the torch lit torch, carrying a Tibetan flag as well as a banner reading “No genocide games.”
Protesters were able to get into the grounds and tried to reach the Temple of Hera where the ceremony was taking place. They were detained and thrown to the ground.
One protester asked, “How can Beijing host the Olympics when they are committing a massacre against the Uyghurs?” referring to Uyghur Muslims living in China’s northwest region, Xinjiang.
Under heavy police security, the flame was lit at the birthplace for the ancient Olympics in south Greece.
The public was not allowed to participate in the pandemic safety measures. There was also no cloud over Ancient Olympia. The flame was lit ceremonially using the sun’s rays before being taken on a torch relay.
Before they could get to the site, protestors had been detained earlier by Greek police. During the 2008 Beijing Summer Games lighting ceremony, pro-democracy protests broke out.
Despite international criticisms of China’s human-rights record, the International Olympic Committee has remained silent, claiming that it is outside their remit.
Thomas Bach, IOC President, stressed that the modern Games should be considered a politically neutral venue in his speech at the ancient Olympia stadium, where male athletes used to compete naked in an antiquity truce between their warring cities.
He stated that only this political neutrality could ensure that the Olympic Games are able to stand above and beyond political differences. The Olympic Games can’t address all of the problems in our world. They set an example for a world that respects each other’s rules.
In a press release, Tibetan rights activists stated that China wanted to “sportswash,” its human rights abuses with the “glamor and veneer of respectability” the Olympic Games bring.
The Greek national Olympic committee commented on the protest and said that although it respects freedom, it was disappointed that the traditional cultural event had been used for other purposes by some individuals.
Beijing will be the first city to host both the winter and summer Olympics.
Shortly after, a Greek actress performing the role of a pagan priestess bent down to light the Olympic flame. She used a bowl-shaped mirror and a bowl-shaped mirror, to focus the sun’s rays onto a torch filled with fuel to light it.
Standing in front of the few columns of the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera that are still standing, she offered a symbolic petition to Apollo, the ancient Greek god of light and light, to light the flame.
As a TV drone buzzed overhead, she said, “Mountains become silent, birdsong cease,” as hundreds of photographers clicked their shutters.
Soon after, the shouts of protesters were heard.
Yu Zaiqing was the vice president of Beijing’s organizing committee. He said that the Games provided “confidence, warmth, and hope” during the pandemic which first struck China.
He stated, “We can and WILL deliver an Olympic Games that is safe, streamlined and spectacular to the world.”
The police were often seen at the site of the ancient Games, where they were held for over 1,000 years. Each person who wanted to enter the venue needed an accreditation. They also had to pass through metal detectors and checkpoints.
Two protesters were held on Sunday at the Acropolis in Athens, trying to raise awareness about human rights violations in China.
The Olympic flame will travel to Athens, where it will be handed to Beijing organizers.
From February 4-20, the Beijing Winter Games will be held. Only mainland Chinese spectators will be permitted to attend. All Olympic athletes, including those competing in the games, will need to have their vaccinations up-to-date or they will spend 21 days in quarantine.