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IOC President, Greece convey warm wishes to Beijing for 2022 Winter Olympics******
OLYMPIA, Greece, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and Greek officials conveyed best wishes for a successful Games from the birthplace of the Olympic movement ahead of the lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame that will burn for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
On Monday, during a ritual sun-ray ceremony inside the stadium of Ancient Olympia in western Greece where the Games were born centuries ago, the sacred flame will be ignited and will start its journey to Beijing.
"We are all looking forward to a great and successful Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, when Beijing will write history as the first ever city to organize both editions of the Olympic Games, Summer and Winter, and when we will celebrate with the Chinese people a great festival of sport and winter sport. So, looking forward to see you soon in Beijing," Bach said on Sunday during an event at the premises of the International Olympic Academy overlooking the stadium.
Greek Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis expressed confidence in the success of the XXIV Winter Olympics that will run from February 4 to 20, 2022, followed by the Paralympics.
"We are very happy that Beijing is hosting the Olympics again; this time, after 2008, the 2022 Winter Olympics. It will succeed just as well in organizing the forthcoming Winter Olympics," he told Xinhua during a recent event in Athens, near the marble stadium where the flame will be handed over to the 2022 Games organizers on Tuesday.
"We are confident that our Chinese friends will organize fantastic Games in Beijing," Spyros Capralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and member of the International Olympic Committee, added during the same event.
"Greek and Chinese civilizations meet again in less than 15 years for both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Games. I think it is a happy occasion, because the Chinese people proved in 2008 that they know how to organize an excellent Olympic Games," Mayor of Ancient Olympia, Georgios Georgiopoulos, told Xinhua.
"It was probably one of the best Games organized in recent years and we believe that this event will have the same success," he said.
Artemis Ignatiou, the choreographer and artistic director of the Olympic Flame Lighting and Handover ceremonies in Ancient Olympia and Athens since Beijing 2008, also sent her warmest wishes to Beijing when speaking to Xinhua amidst rehearsals inside the ancient stadium.
"I hope that there will be great Olympic Games in Beijing, with incredible records, [I wish] great success and I send my love and positive energy," she said.
Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou, who will hold the role of the Ancient Greek High Priestess and ignite the flame using the sun's rays during Monday's ceremony here, also has a special link to Beijing. She was one of the priestesses escorting another High Priestess in 2008.
"Beijing, from the bottom of my heart, I send you best wishes for good luck," she told Xinhua on Sunday here after a rehearsal.
"Being an athlete trying to compete in the Olympic Games is something really special to be in this place," added Ioannis Antoniou, the Greek skier who will be the first torchbearer to receive the flame from the High Priestess inside the ancient stadium, before sending his warmest wishes to Beijing in Chinese. Enditem