Torch relay for upcoming Beijing Games scaled back to three days due to COVID-19 fears

The relay will now take place February 2-4 and will be only in certain controlled areas

Staff members hold a safety lantern for the Olympic flame and torches of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics during a ceremony for a flame exhibition tour at the Sinopec building in Beijing, China December 7, 2021. China Daily via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.
Staff members hold a safety lantern for the Olympic flame and torches of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics during a ceremony for a flame exhibition tour at the Sinopec building in Beijing, China December 7, 2021. China Daily via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.

The torch relay for the upcoming Beijing Games is being cut back to just three days due to COVID-19 concerns.

Yang Haibin, Beijing’s deputy sports director, said the scaled back torch relay was necessary due to several factors including the pandemic, venue preparations and the possibility of forest fires.

The torch relay will now be February 2-4 and will take place in all three competition areas of downtown Beijing, the suburb of Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.

Previous torch replays have lasted several months and covered thousands of miles in the host country.

A safety lantern for the Olympic flame and torches of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is displayed during a flame exhibition tour at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications in Beijing, China December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A safety lantern for the Olympic flame and torches of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is displayed during a flame exhibition tour at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications in Beijing, China December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Yang said the Olympic flame will be displayed only in “safe and controllable enclosed venues.”

Eleven cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in Beijing according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

All participants in the torch relay will undergo health screens and be carefully monitored for the next two weeks. Millions of people in China are currently under lockdown due to China’s “zero-tolerance” response to the pandemic.