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Olympic torch lit up in Beijing in 14 years

Posted February. 04, 2022 07:48,   

Updated February. 04, 2022 07:48


The Olympic torch lights up Beijing in 14 years. Starting with the opening ceremony that will take place at 9 p.m. on Friday, the 2022 Beijing Winter Games will begin its 17-day celebration of winter sports. Beijing is the first city in Olympic history to hold both Summer and Winter Games.

Beijing National Stadium, where the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place, is the same stadium that hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Games and was used as the main track and field stadium and the venue for the men’s 2008 gold medal soccer game. It is known as the “Bird’s Nest” for its distinctive design. The stadium, however, will not hold other sport events besides the opening and closing ceremonies. Zhang Yimou, a Chinese film director, will be directing the opening and closing ceremonies as he did in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. Some 3,000 will perform in the opening ceremony that will last about 100 minutes, 95 percent of which will be teenagers.

The opening ceremony for the Winter Games is simpler than that of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which lasted about four hours with 15,000 performers, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and cold weather. Moreover, some Western countries including the U.S. claimed diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, contributing to a lesser number of foreign missions. Chinese President Xi Jinping of China and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to attend the opening ceremony.

The identity of the final torchbearer and how the torch would be lit up remain confidential. Back in 2008, Li Ning, a legendary Chinese gymnast, lit cauldron by gliding through the air, suspended on a high-wire. Director Zhang has already claimed that he would employ “a bold idea” to surprise spectators. Many expect to see eco-friendly way of lighting the cauldron, given that hydrogen has been used as energy source. Among candidates for the last torchbearer are Wang Meng, a decorated Chinese short-track speed skater who won six medals at the Olympics and Zou Kai, who won three gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Hong-Gu Kang windup@donga.com