Winter Olympic Torch Relay Shrinks to ‘Prioritize Safety.’

Winter Olympic Torch Relay Shrinks to ‘Prioritize Safety.’

The Olympic torch’s public journey to the opening ceremony of the Winter Games will be much more lonely and with much less fanfare.

The torch relay, usually global and lasting for months, will be just three days, mostly local, and open only to select members of the public, according to organizers of the Beijing Olympics.

“This torch relay will always prioritize safety,” Yang Haibin, an official from the organizing committee, said at a news briefing on Friday.

The route will feature stops at the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, and the Olympic Village in Beijing. The relay is scheduled to start Feb. 2 and finish on Feb. 4, when the Games begin.

Vaccinations are required for the torchbearers, who will be tested for coronavirus and are having have their health closely monitored until the torch relay begins.

China is going to extreme lengths to curb outbreaks that have proliferated around the country this month. At least 30 major cities have reported locally transmitted Covid cases, and many more cities have been subjected to partial lockdowns and mass testing.

The case numbers are only a few, though, with 24 locally transmitted cases in Beijing recently. Several neighborhoods there have been sealed off, and the government is increasing testing requirements for entering and leaving the capital. Officials said this week that Olympics tickets would not be sold to the public because of concerns about the virus.

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