JUYONGGUAN, China (AP) — Beijing’s famous landmarks are mostly outside the Olympic bubble, including the Great Wall, the ultimate symbol of Chinese history and strength.
A group of 60 athletes and journalists had the opportunity to visit a section of the wall, making it one of the few Olympic visitors able to circumvent the virtual tours and cardboard cutouts of the Olympic Media Center wall and experience the real thing.
The group climbed the ancient steps of Juyong Pass, just outside Beijing, a little taste of China outside the bubble that was made possible by closing off part of the wall during their visit , in accordance with strict COVID-19 protocols imposed by the government.
Stretching for thousands of kilometers along mountain ridges and peaks, the wall has been a barrier protecting the Chinese capital for more than 2,000 years. It has gone through dynasties and discoveries. And now he’s seen two Olympics.
For those lucky enough to board the bus for Wednesday’s tour, the roughly hewn stone and dramatic views provided a stark contrast to the sterilized and modernized version of China on display inside the Olympic Loop, where robots do everything from dipping fries in oil to running around picking up trash.
The country is an expert in powerful gestures, whether it’s dazzling light shows and fireworks at the opening ceremony, or a wall built over centuries thanks to the labor of millions of people. And while food processors can be flashy, nothing compares to the grandeur of the Great Wall.
Ragan Clark is a New York-based AP reporter on assignment in Beijing for the Winter Olympics. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/raganclark
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