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Activists Opposing Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Arrested on Acropolis

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Two activists were detained by Greek police on Sunday for unfurling banners “Free Tibet” and against the Beijing Winter Olympics. Credit: Facebook/Students for a Free Tibet

Greek police detained on Sunday two activists who attempted to hang a banner against Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics from the scaffolding on the Acropolis.

The women, 18-year-old Tibetan student Tsela Zoksang and 22-year-old exiled Hong Kong activist Joey Siu, both American citizens, are members of the “No Beijing 2022” campaign, the New York-based organization Students for a Free Tibet said.

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They had also staged protests during the flame-lighting ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, and disrupted the international torch relay.

A security officer took the banner away, but the activists remained on the scaffolding and deployed a Tibetan flag and a smaller banner proclaiming, “Free Hong Kong Revolution.” They also chanted slogans including “Free Tibet,” “Boycott Beijing 2022” and “No freedom, no Games,” before police arrived and detained them.

Protests are not allowed on the Acropolis — which has not stopped several from being held over the years by groups ranging from Communist unionists to soccer fans.

Olympic flame ceremony for Beijing Olympics takes place on Monday

On Monday the Olympic flame lighting ceremony will take place in ancient Olympia ahead of the Beijing Winter Games, will run from Feb. 4-20.

At the ancient Temple of Hera, up to 30 priestesses or ‘Caryatids Kores’ will perform a series of rituals, calling on the sun god Apollo to ignite the Olympic flame using the rays of the sun and a parabolic mirror. The fire, which stays lit for the entirety of the Olympic Games period, symbolizes purity and represents the values of the Olympics between nations.

Health measures for the second pandemic flame-lighting at Ancient Olympia mean that much of the normal pageantry is being trimmed back. There will be no spectators Monday, and only three runners will take part in a symbolic relay that would normally have lasted days.

The flame will be taken to Athens and handed over to Beijing organizers on Tuesday at the renovated Panathenaic stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. The Stadium, one of the main historic attractions of Athens, is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.

The first torchbearer, Greek alpine ski racer Ioannis Antoniou, said his part in the ceremony is “one of the greatest honors an athlete can have.”

“And much more as it’s the Olympics that I’m trying to qualify for,” he told Associated Press.

Only spectators from mainland China will be allowed to attend the Beijing Winter Games. Everyone at the Olympics — including athletes — will be expected to be vaccinated, or else have to spend 21 days in quarantine.

The Paralympics are set to follow from March 4-13.

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