BEIJING: The Olympic torch relay began its final stretch on Friday (Feb 4) through former imperial gardens in northwest Beijing, with Chinese Olympic medallist Ding Ning among those carrying the flame along a route shortened to three days because of COVID-19.
Torch-bearers on a cold sunny morning ran past the bridges, pagodas and frozen lakes of the Summer Palace, built by China’s last imperial dynasty.
The route taking the flame to landmarks including the Great Wall is far more modest than the globe-spanning tour ahead of Beijing’s 2008 Summer Games.
“Then (in 2008), I was still striving towards my Olympic dream,” said Ding, a table tennis player who won gold at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and silver in 2012. “Now to be able to participate in the Winter Olympics as a torch-bearer is a rare chance, so I’m very happy.”
Other torch-bearers on Friday included a Beijing opera artist and the head of a traditional Chinese medicine hospital.
As in 2008, the relay will end with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
The Games are taking place inside a “closed loop” because of COVID-19, keeping competitors and other Olympics personnel away from the public, and will be attended only by small, selected audiences.