Olympic Flame for Beijing 2022 Winter Games lit in Ancient Olympia
The Olympic Flame that will be burning for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games started its journey after being ignited at the birthplace of the Games in Ancient Olympia, Greece on Monday during a traditional lighting ceremony, according to Xinhua.
Actress Xanthi Georgiou in the role of an ancient Greek High Priestess used a concave mirror to focus the sun's rays and light the torch before the 2,500-year-old Temple of Hera, a goddess in ancient Greek mythology.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, special representative and Vice-President of Beijing 2022 Yu Zaiqing were among the dignitaries at the ceremony that was held with no spectators under strict COVID-19 countermeasures.
Escorted by dozens of female and male dancers playing the roles of priestesses, Naiades (nymphs protecting nature) and male youth (Kouroi) in pleated costumes, the flame was transported in a replica of an ancient urn to the stadium where the Olympic Games were born centuries ago, under the rhythm of an ancient Greek type Lyra and percussions.
Following a dance performance by the 38 artists inspired by ancient Greek statues on the slope of the stadium, the High Priestess kindled the first Olympic torch for the 2022 Winter Games and passed it to the first torchbearer, Greek skier Ioannis Antoniou, along with an olive branch.
In addition, a dancer released a white pigeon to spread the Olympic ideals of friendship and peace to the world as the flame's journey started.
The first Chinese torch bearer to receive the flame from Ioannis Antoniou was Li Jiajun, a winner of five medals in short track speed skating at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
The flame will be handed over to the Beijing 2022 organizers on Tuesday at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens before it arrives in China on Wednesday.
Around 2,900 athletes, representing approximately 85 National Olympic Committees, are expected to compete in the 2022 Winter Games.