Beijing Olympics: the director responds to criticism of the "small" Olympic flame of the ceremony

The size of the Olympic flame, lit in the stadium in Beijing, was mocked during the opening ceremony, February 4, 2022. REUTERS - EVELYN HOCKSTEIN

Text by: RFI Follow

2 mins

Chinese director Zhang Yimou has responded to criticism of the "small" Olympic flame lit during the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday evening.

Some have complained of a break with the tradition of the great flame burning in its cauldron.

A choice in line with today's environmental imperatives, he explained.


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With our correspondent in Beijing,

Stéphane Lagarde

Ladies and gentlemen, the Olympic flame!

 The crowd holds its breath... And finally, it is a simple torch in the middle of a huge snowflake suspended in the heart of the stadium of the bird's nest in Beijing which appears.

Obviously, the final touch of the

opening ceremony

staged by maestro

Zhang Yimou

does not please everyone.

Rain of mockery and candles accompanied by the Olympic rings on social networks abroad, comments also regretting what some consider a break with the tradition of the giant cauldron igniting on Olympic night.

Climate emergency

The director of

Wives and concubines

justifies his decision described as “

bold and iconoclastic

 ” on the aesthetic level, but also environmental.

In 2008, the same Zhang Yimou had chosen a vast basin in the shape of an old roll to accommodate the flame of the summer games.

Except that in fourteen years, the climate emergency has changed the situation.

Friday's ceremony was organized around a succession of paintings symbolizing nature.

This new flame “

sends a clear message,

declared the director to

the People's Daily


 that of respecting the environment and having low carbon emissions


It was also necessary to negotiate for this with the highest authorities of the IOC, entrusted the latter to the Chinese media.

Initially, among the proposals, there was in particular the idea of ​​lighting a light point in the center of the stadium.

The Olympic authorities would have refused.

No game without fire.

To read also: China: after two years of isolation, Xi Jinping organizes a banquet with the guests of the Olympic Games


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  • Olympic Games 2022

  • China

  • Olympic Games

  • Environment