Olympia 2022: Athens protest as Beijing prepares for the Olympics flames


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The activists held a brief protest early in the morning on the Acropolis in the Greek capital, holding a Tibetan flag and a banner reading “Free Hong Kong Revolution” on scaffolding surrounding part of the monument.

The activists arrested were 18-year-old Tibetan student Tsela Zoksang and 22-year-old Joey Siu, a US citizen exiled from Hong Kong.

The protest was raised hours before a dress rehearsal in Olympia, Greece, the site of the ancient Olympic Games, for the torch-lighting ceremony for the Games scheduled for Monday.

The Greek police, in which several dozen officers were present, quickly stopped the activists.

The Chinese capital will be the first city to host both the Winter and Summer Games when it hosts the event, but like the 2008 Beijing Olympics, protests and calls for boycotts over the country’s human rights record have tarnished the run-up.

Human rights groups and US lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee [IOC] Postpone the Games and reschedule the event unless China ends what the US believes is the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

The Chinese authorities are accused of having made forced labor possible by detaining around one million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in camps since 2016.

China denies wrongdoing, saying it has set up vocational training centers to combat extremism.

The dress rehearsal on Sunday in the ancient stadium of Olympia was hampered by short rains and heavy clouds, with the torch not being lit by the sun’s rays through a parabolic mirror.

Instead, a backup flame from previous rehearsals was used by an actress who played the high priestess.

More rain is expected on Monday, and human rights activists promise further action until the flames are handed over to the organizers of the Chinese Games in Athens on Tuesday.

The 2008 Summer Olympics flame ceremony in Beijing was also seriously disrupted by a series of protests by human rights activists, which marked the start of international demonstrations over China’s human rights record ahead of the Olympics.

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