The torch lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will take place behind closed doors at the ruins of the Temple of Hera in ancient Olympia on October 18.
According to Reuters, the traditional week-long relay through Greece before the torch departs for the host country has been called off. Instead, the torch will be flown directly to China after a small handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens a day after the torch lighting ceremony.
These decisions were taken after Greek authorities, in conjunction with the Hellenic Olympic Committee and Beijing 2022, deemed it was too dangerous to hold a public ceremony and relay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will be the second straight time that the torch lighting ceremony is held without a public audience. The pandemic also forced the Tokyo 2020 torch lighting ceremony to be a private, invitation only affair in March 2020.
The Greek leg of the torch relay for Tokyo 2020 was cancelled as well after Greek authorities deemed the crowds lining the route would be too large in the scope of the pandemic. The handover ceremony was carried out on March 19 and arrived in Japan the next day, just days before the Tokyo Olympics were postponed for a year.
It remains unclear if there will be a public torch relay held in China after the torch arrives there.