— Published 24 January 2022

A relay without an audience

This was to be expected. A few days after putting an end to the false suspense by announcing that tickets for the Beijing Games would not go on sale, the Chinese organisers announced that the torch relay would also take place without an audience. Already reduced to just three days, from 2 to 4 February, the torch’s route will take it through the three Olympic cities – Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou – without seeing a single ordinary spectator. Only a select few will be allowed to sit on the road along the route. “This torch relay will always prioritise safety, said Yang Haibin, Beijing’s deputy sports minister. Taking into account factors such as epidemic prevention … the torch relay and ceremonial activities will be arranged in safe and controllable closed venues.” The number of torchbearers had already been significantly reduced to 1,200 for the three-day event. Torchbearers will have to be vaccinated. They will be tested beforehand and medically monitored for 14 days prior to the event.