Winter Olympics: Uighur athlete is final torchbearer

Dinigeer Yilamujian (left) and Zhao Jiawen wave with the Olympic flame in the middle of a giant snowflake during the opening ceremony. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A cross-country skier born in Xinjiang was one of two final torchbearers who ended the Olympic opening ceremony by sending a flame into the sky on a giant snowflake.

Dinigeer Yilamujiang, from Altay, Xinjiang, and Zhao Jiawen, a 21-year-old biathlete, delivered the flame.

Yilamujiang, 21, is the first Chinese cross-country skiing medallist at any FIS-level event and is a medal hopeful in a sport in which China has not traditionally excelled.

The selection of Yilamujiang as a final torchbearer came as many western nations diplomatically boycotted the Winter Games over China's treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang.

China denies human rights abuses.

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