In a little over a week, it will be time to talk about the Olympics again. With our hearts still full of emotions from the rich loot of medals won in Tokyo 2020/21, we are approaching the next sporting event with great expectations.
From Friday February 4 to Sunday February 20, there will be 15 disciplines on snow and ice in which athletes from the 90 countries participating in the Beijing 2022 Winter Games will compete: not only skiing and skating, but also biathlon, bobsleigh, ice hockey, short track, snowboarding.
Also in Beijing, the Winter Paralympics will be held from Friday, March 4 to Sunday, March 13.
For the first time, the winter edition will be held six months after the summer edition, thanks to COVID. It hadn’t happened since 1994, the year of the “intermediate” Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, when the biennial summer-winter alternation was established. Another record will accompany the XXIV edition of the Winter Games: Beijing will be the first city in the world to have hosted both the summer edition (in 2008) and the winter one (in 2010).
This is an absolute record that China had absolutely no intention of losing, despite the many difficulties related to COVID and the announced diplomatic boycott of many countries. The representatives of the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and now also Denmark and the Netherlands will not attend the Olympic Games as a form of protest against the violation of human rights by the Chinese government, while the regular participation of their athletes is expected.
The opening and closing ceremonies of the Games will take place in central Beijing, as will many of the Olympic ice sports, such as curling, ice hockey, speed skating, figure skating, and aerial snowboarding.
Alpine skiing, bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton competitions will instead be held in Yanqing, a mountainous suburb of Beijing located approximately 50 miles from the city center. The rest of the competitions, including most of the skiing and snowboarding events, including freestyle, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, and biathlon, will eventually take place in Zhangjiakou, a popular Chinese ski destination about 110 miles northwest of Beijing.
Unlike Tokyo 2020, the Beijing Olympic Games will not be behind closed doors. Although ticket sales were halted in January due to the worsening epidemiological situation, many tickets were sold.
According to the latest indications from the government, for those in possession of tickets, it will be possible to follow the races live, but always in compliance with a strict anti-Covid protocol. The capacity of the stands will not be full, but the athletes will be able to be accompanied by relatives and friends and enjoy the support of the public.
To welcome athletes, authorities and the public will be the mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen, a smiling panda, a symbol of the endurance and willpower of athletes. Covered in an ice shell and with the palm of the left hand in the shape of a heart, it symbolizes the hospitality of the country.