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Torch relay ignites enthusiasm for the grandest of athletic events
On February 2, the second day of the Chinese New Year, the flame of the Beijing 2022 Games arrives at Beijing Winter Olympic Park in Shijingshan District, Beijing. There torchbearer No.277, He Jun, is ready to go
By Li Qing  ·  2022-02-14  ·   Source: NO.7 FEBRUARY 17, 2022

The Olympic flame burns in the snowflake-shaped cauldron on February 4 (XINHUA)

On February 2, the second day of the Chinese New Year, the flame of the Beijing 2022 Games arrived at Beijing Winter Olympic Park in Shijingshan District, Beijing. There torchbearer No.277, He Jun, was ready to go. 

He, chief translator at China International Communications Group (CICG) and a senior translator with Foreign Languages Press, waited his turn, torch in hand.

"It felt like a dream when the previous bearer came running up to me," He told Beijing Review, adding he was so focused on his own run that he hardly noticed what was going on around him.

Some 1,200 torchbearers from across Chinese society, aged 14 to 86, participated in the relay, together with international participants from over 20 countries and regions.

Most of them are exemplary contributors in their specific fields, willing to share their experiences with others—especially the younger generations, He said, adding this was a most significant part of the event for him.

He Jun, chief translator at China International Communications Group and senior translator with Foreign Languages Press, at the torch relay in Beijing Winter Olympic Park on February 2 (COURTESY PHOTO)

Sparking passion

The torch relay for the Beijing 2022 Games started in Beijing, China's capital on February 2, just two days before the Games officially opened.

The launching ceremony was held at the Olympic Forest Park, and China's first winter sports world champion, 80-year-old Luo Zhihuan, carried a torch along the first leg. The burning flame told the world that the best winter sports athletes in the world were about to gather in this dual Olympic host city to strive for athletic glory.

Under COVID-19 prevention and control measures, the torch relay across the three competition zones was scaled down to a three-day event. Besides preventing mass gatherings in the areas, the measure helped minimize the relay's influence on the capital's daily operations and people's life, Xu Zhijun, Deputy Secretary General of the organizing committee of the Games, said at a press conference on January 21.

The flame made its way across three competition zones—downtown Beijing, suburban Yanqing District and co-host Zhangjiakou of Hebei Province—in 12 segments and was carried into the National Stadium on the evening of February 4, during the opening ceremony.

Unlike the traditional format, in which each segment connects with the next one to form a seamless route, the Beijing 2022 event saw the Olympic flame exchanged between a fixed number of legs. Torchbearers only took part in the relays at their set locations without actually passing the flame on to the next venue.

The arrangement of having separate relay activities reflected the goal of hosting a green and inclusive Olympics in a "streamlined, safe and splendid" manner, according to Xu. Another highlight was the underwater torch passing between robots, a first in Olympic history, inside the Beijing Winter Olympic Park.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach was the penultimate bearer. He said after completing his leg that doing this was an adrenaline rush and his confidence in the opening ceremony and the approaching Games had grown even greater.

The torch conveys a message of unity and resilience, indicating people can come together despite differences at this time of pandemic turmoil, he said, adding this is the significance of both the Olympic flame and the Olympic Games.

Hard work pays off

Finding out he had been selected was like a jolt of excitement, He said. "It is my honor to serve as a torchbearer for the Winter Olympic Games. I also feel lucky as many of my colleagues in CICG have achieved outstanding results."

The 59-year-old translator has devoted himself to his craft for nearly four decades. He joined Foreign Languages Press after graduating from the English Department at Peking University in 1985.

Thanks to his abundant experience in translating and editing books for international publishing, He participated in finalizing the English editions of the first three volumes of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, distributed to over 170 countries and regions. Regarded as models of faithfulness, expressivity and elegance in translation, they are perfect choices for foreigners to learn more about China.

The expert team made innovations in translation. For instance, when decoding the Chinese classics, they would add notes or supplementary information in light of specific context while remaining faithful to the original texts.

The Winter Olympics create a platform for athletes from around the world to communicate and showcase their skills, which bears similarity to his job in enhancing mutual understanding and solidarity, he explained.

Translation requires long periods of sitting, which stiffens the body, so he took up jogging and walking after work. "After learning I was a candidate to carry the torch, I became more active and physical activities promote happiness and vitality."

Passing hope

When carrying the torches, bearers hope to spread love and a positive outlook on life, He said. "I was encouraged by other participants, who were looking healthy and energetic."

Liang Nanyu, Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party of China Shuanghu County Committee, Tibet Autonomous Region, was touched by the soldiers with injuries suffered in the line of duty partaking in the relay. "They are the real heroes of the country," he said.

He hopes to take this opportunity to promote ice and snow tourism and economy. "I work in Tibet and the area boasts abundant resources to develop the industry. Take the Purog Kangri Glacier in Shuanghu County as an example. I hope it can become better known and explored by enthusiasts, and that the passion of winter sports can extend to the plateau."

Wang Meng, a four-time Olympic short track speed skating champion, also partook in the relay. She hopes in addition to the events that China is more likely to win, people can also pay attention to those relatively new ones, including bobsleigh and luge. "We have made a lot of progress in these events over the years," she told Xinhua. 

(Printed Edition: The Prelude to the Pageant) 

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon  

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