Greece hands over Olympic Flame to Beijing 2022 organizers
The Olympic Flame for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games was handed over on Tuesday to the Chinese organizers in a ceremony held at the Panathenaic stadium in Athens.
At the marble venue of the first modern Olympics in 1896, Hellenic Olympic Committee President and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Spyros Capralos passed the sacred flame to Yu Zaiqing, special representative and vice president of the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee.
The Chinese delegation left the stadium with best wishes for the Olympic Winter Games from February 4 to 20 which will be followed by the Paralympics.
Greek Deputy Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis, Mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis, IOC members and other Greek and foreign dignitaries attended Tuesday's event.
Several officials attended as well the lighting ceremony which was held on Monday at Ancient Olympia in western Greece, the birthplace of the Games centuries ago.
Both ceremonies were closed to spectators due to COVID-19 safety measures.
Inside the ancient stadium at Ancient Olympia where athletes once competed, a short symbolic torch relay was staged.
Former Chinese freestyle skiing aerials athlete Li Nina passed the flame to the last torchbearer on Greek soil, Paraskevi Ladopoulou, a Greek cross country and biathlon athlete, who lit the cauldron.
Capralos then received the flame from Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou acting as an ancient Greek High Priestess.
She was escorted by dancers in the roles of priestesses who performed a choreography.
"Both I, and all Greeks, wish you good luck at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. Your history, your culture, your traditions, your faith in values and your great love for sport, give us the assurance, that you will organize excellent Games next February. Just as you did in 2008, with the Summer Olympic Games," Capralos said, addressing the event before handing over the Flame to the Chinese hosts.
"Committed to a green, inclusive, open and clean approach to preparing and hosting the Games, we will deliver a simple, safe and splendid Games, which hopefully will help promote the Olympic Movement and the building of a global community of a shared future," Yu said in his speech.
At the end of the ceremony, the flame was transported to the Athens airport to head for Beijing, the first city ever to host both summer and winter Olympic Games.