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Beijing Games ready for Olympia flame but wary of protests

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ATHENS, Oct 14 (Reuters) – The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will come into sharp focus with the ceremonial torch-lighting ceremony in Greece’s historic Olympia on Monday but opposition to the Games continues to develop extra vocal.

The Chinese capital will develop into the primary metropolis to host each the Winter and Summer Games when it levels the Feb. 4-20 occasion but, as was the case with the 2008 Beijing Olympics, protests and calls for boycotts over the nation’s human rights document have marred the run-up.

Rights teams and U.S. lawmakers have referred to as on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Games and relocate the occasion until China ends what the United States deems ongoing genocide in opposition to Uyghurs and different Muslim minority teams. learn extra

Chinese authorities have been accused of facilitating pressured labour by detaining round one million Uyghurs and different primarily Muslim minorities in camps since 2016.

China denies wrongdoing, saying it has arrange vocational coaching centres to fight extremism.

Next week’s ceremony in Olympia, the location of the traditional Games, can be held with out spectators and solely a restricted media presence because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The flame handover to Beijing Games organisers will happen in Athens a day later at an occasion additionally with out spectators.

Hundreds of Greek law enforcement officials are anticipated to lock down the sleepy city in western Peloponnese for the weekend in a bid to make sure there are not any disruptions to the ceremony.

For police, the dearth of crowds will make it simpler to safeguard the ceremonies, with authorities determined to keep away from a repeat of the protests throughout the torch-lighting ceremony for the Beijing Summer Games.

PROTESTS

Back in 2008, Tibetan activists sneaked into the traditional web site in Olympia, lighting their very own torch earlier than the official ceremony, upsetting Chinese organisers.

Activists additionally breached tight safety and interrupted the Beijing Games torch-lighting ceremony itself, unfurling a banner condemning China’s human rights document in a globally televised occasion.

They then disrupted the relay begin in Olympia, marking the start of months of worldwide protests.

“There is heightened mobility of the Greek police regarding the Beijing torch lighting, especially compared to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” a Greek official, talking on situation of anonymity, advised Reuters.

“The scenario of potential disruption is obviously being seriously considered by police.”

Human rights teams, with out revealing particulars, have advised Reuters they are going to be current in Greece throughout the ceremonies to focus on China’s human rights document and to name once more on the IOC to cease the Games.

The IOC can also be going through criticism for awarding two Olympics to China in a span of 14 years regardless of what rights teams say are not any enhancements within the human rights state of affairs for the reason that 2008 Games.

But IOC Vice-President John Coates defended the Olympic physique’s stance on Wednesday.

“The IOC’s remit is to ensure that there is no human rights abuses in respect of the conduct of the Games within the National Olympic Committees or within the Olympic movement,” he mentioned.

“We have no ability to go into a country and tell them what to do. All we can do is to award the Olympics to a country, under conditions set out in a host contract … and then ensure they are followed.”

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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