Olympic Torch Relay begins its journey in Beijing

02 Feb 2022
IOC News Beijing 2022

The Olympic Torch Relay for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 got underway today with help from the first Chinese winter sports world champion. Eighty-year-old Luo Zhihuan was the first of around 1,200 torchbearers, in China, who will deliver the Olympic flame to the Opening Ceremony at the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium on 4 February. 

Olympic Torch Relay begins its journey in Beijing Beijing 2022

The participation of the world champion skater, who set a world record in 1,500m long-track speed skating in 1963, also served as a symbolic passing of the flame to a new generation of athletes.

“Today, my dream comes true,” he said. “I have carried the Olympic flame as a representative of the first generation of Chinese winter sports athletes.” 

The Torch Relay began in Beijing Olympic Forest Park, and will travel across the three competition zones of Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou before arriving at the Opening Ceremony. The Games organisers significantly shortened the planned relay route as part of the COVID-19 precautions for Beijing 2022.

Olympic Torch Relay begins its journey in Beijing Beijing 2022

Han Zheng, the Head of the Steering Group for the Preparations of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, lit the torch and announced the start of the Relay in the presence of more than 300 athletes, students, volunteers and community residents. 

Cai Qi, President of the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee, called the flame “a symbol of light, solidarity, peace from around the world” that will “spread the Olympic spirit and ignite public enthusiasm for the Olympic Games”.

In a video message, IOC President Thomas Bach said: "The Olympic flame will show everyone that Beijing is ready to make history, becoming the first-ever host of both summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games. This is the timeless message that the Olympic flame will send from China to the world: we can only go faster, we can only aim higher, we can only become stronger, if we stand together.

While drawing inspiration from the traditional Chinese idea of “Taoism follows the laws of nature, and nature and humanity are one”, the Beijing 2022 Olympic torch design draws from the design of the Beijing 2008 torch. The cloud pattern on the torch reuses the colours of silver and red to symbolise ice and fire that will bring light and warmth to the ice and snow. 

The Olympic flame was lit at the site of Ancient Olympia in Greece on 18 October 2021, and was passed to the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee the following day. The flame then left for China, where it was displayed in various locations in the months leading up to the Games.

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