In a move that has aroused criticism from women’s rights activists, the Olympic flame arrived in Beijing on Friday just 48 hours before the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Games, amid renewed calls for a boycott by human rights groups.
The International Olympic Committee justified the visit in part by saying the flame would be sent via a special train that would transfer through towns close to the Olympic village — a decision that will likely add to the reputation of the games as elitist.
But activists are far less tolerant, saying that the games should only be held in countries that meet the Olympic spirit and the “highest standards in respect for human rights and the environment.”
This is far from the first time Beijing has been criticized for its treatment of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population. In 2013, activists staged a candlelight vigil to remind people that the date of the torch relay had fallen during the International Day Against Homophobia. A group of Russian skaters also traveled to Park City, Utah, at the time to participate in a moment of silence to honor persecuted LGBT athletes.
The protests, however, did not prevent the Olympic flame from being taken to Longjing — China’s capital and perhaps the most remote town in the country.