The Olympic flame for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 was lit in Ancient Olympia, Greece. This marks the start of its journey to China where, in just over 100 days, the Games will begin.
As a symbol of peace, unity and solidarity, the Olympic flame will convey the values of Olympism to all those that see it on its travels. The flame will help build anticipation amongst Olympic fans eager to witness the world’s best winter sports stars in action, whilst also inspiring thousands of athletes who are making their final preparations for these Games.
Due to the COVID-19 countermeasures, today’s ceremony in Olympia was held under strict conditions, with only a limited delegation present. The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and several guests were in attendance, showing their solidarity with the Beijing 2022 Games. These included the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou; the members of the IOC Executive Board; and the IOC’s Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission Chair, Juan Antonio Samaranch. The Chinese delegation was led by IOC Vice-President, Special Representative and Vice-President of Beijing 2022 and Vice-President of the Chinese Olympic Committee Yu Zaiqing. The ceremony was hosted by the Hellenic Olympic Committee President and IOC member Spyros Capralos. Also present were the ICMG Secretary General Iakovos Filippousis and the Mayor of Olympia, Georgios Georgiopoulos.
The traditional ceremony, held near the Temple of Hera, celebrates the Olympic Games’ Greek heritage, connecting the modern Games to their historic origins. After the Olympic flame was lit by the High Priestess, it began its journey with Greek skier Ioannis Antoniou, an Olympian who also assumed the role of first torchbearer for the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. The flame was then passed to Chinese Olympian Li Jiajun, a winner of five medals in speed skating at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games (two silver and three bronze medals).
After the ceremony, the Olympic flame will be transported to the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, where on 19 October the official handover to the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee will take place before the flame departs for China.