China limits Olympic torch relay to three days amid COVID-19 concerns
China is limiting the Olympic torch relay ahead of the Winter Games to three days due to COVID-19 concerns in the country.
Officials said the flame will only go through downtown Beijing, suburbs in Yanqing and Zhangjiakou for safety reasons, The Associated Press reported.
The Feb. 2-4 duration of the relay is due to the coronavirus and concerns of forest fires due to the climate of the area at this time of year.
Safety is a “top priority” at the relay and Olympics Games, Beijing’s deputy sports director, Yang Haibin, said.
The relay will not interfere with the daily lives of Beijing residents and runners won’t go on any public transit.
Xu Zhijun, deputy head of the organizing committee, said those involved in the relay will have their health monitored the two weeks before the event begins, according to the AP.
Concerns about the virus have risen as Xinhua News Agency reported 15 recorded COVID-19 cases in the city as of Thursday, the AP noted.
In other mitigation measures, only select individuals are allowed to watch the Games in person and athletes are not allowed to interact with the general public.
The controversial Winter Olympic Games will officially start Feb. 4 and go until Feb. 20.
Countries such as the U.S., U.K. and Australia have said they will have a diplomatic boycott of the Games due to China’s human rights abuses.