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Olympic flame arrives in Beijing ahead of Winter Games amid calls for boycott

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Posted at 1:01 AM, Oct 20, 2021

The Olympic flame has arrived in Beijing amid calls from critics for a boycott of the Winter Games, which are set to be staged in February.

The flame was received by Beijing's Communist Party Secretary Cai Qi, the top official in the Chinese capital.

Beijing is the first city to be awarded hosting rights to both the Summer and Winter Games.

The flame arrived in China Tuesday, a day after protesters interrupted the flame lighting ceremony in Greece. Those protesters were carrying a banner that read "No genocide games."

"How can Beijing be allowed to host the Olympics given that they are committing a genocide against the Uyghurs?" one protester said.

Local police later detained the protesters.

Human rights critics say China's oppression of political critics, minority groups including Tibetans and Uyghurs and a crackdown in Hong Kong should prompt athletes and politicians to shun the event.

According to The Associated Press, the International Olympic Committee has shied away from criticism about China's reported human rights abuses. IOC President Thomas Bach has said the Games must be "respected as politically neutral ground."

The Beijing Winter Olympics will run from Feb. 4-20. Only spectators from mainland China will be allowed to attend the Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.