China picks Uyghur athlete to help light cauldron

In a culminating moment to end the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, China chose two athletes – including one it said was o...


In a culminating moment to end the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, China chose two athletes – including one it said was of Uighur descent – ​​to deliver the flame to the Olympic cauldron and officially launch the Games.

The moment was tinged with layers of symbolism – a man and woman working together, a nod to China’s Olympic history – but it was the choice of Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a cross-country skier who the Chinese say , had Uighur roots, which has faced head-on one of the biggest criticisms of the country’s role as a host.

The Chinese Communist Party state has carried out a massive campaign of detention and re-education targeting Uyghur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang that the United States has declared as genocidal. This is one of the reasons why several countries, including the United States, have participated in a diplomatic boycott of the Games.

The lighting of the Olympic cauldron is a central ritual for every Opening Ceremony, as hosts invent ever more spectacular ways to light the flame that stays alight during the sports festival. The chief director of this year’s ceremony, Zhang Yimou, had promised another success.

In the final act of the curtain-raising event, a group of six former Chinese athletes representing previous decades performed a relay that circled the stadium with torches, passing the flame to the next. In the final award, it was given to Yilamujiang and Zhao Jiawen, a men’s Nordic combined athlete.

Walking together, they placed him in the center of a giant snowflake – another recurring symbol of the ceremony – which was raised in the center of the stadium.

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Newsrust - US Top News: China picks Uyghur athlete to help light cauldron
China picks Uyghur athlete to help light cauldron
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