September 25, 2022

Beijing will develop into the primary metropolis to host each the Summer time and Winter Video games following its Olympic debut in 2008, and final month, organizers mentioned preparation was “very a lot on observe” for the Video games to be delivered as deliberate.

Nevertheless it hasn’t been easy. As with final 12 months’s Summer time Olympics, a raft of Covid-19 countermeasures have been put in place forward of the Video games, which can once more happen in a Covid-safe “bubble” system.

When the Video games do lastly get underway with the opening ceremony on February 4 — lasting till the closing ceremony on February 20 — shut to three,000 athletes will compete in 15 disciplines throughout 109 occasions.

Beijing will then additionally host the Paralympic Video games, which run from March 4-13.

How will the Video games be staged amid the pandemic?

Organizers intend to carry Beijing 2022 in a closed loop system which can solely be accessible for Video games members — a plan that has remained in place amid the speedy unfold of the Omicron variant.

As outlined in a Video games playbook revealed in December, the closed loop system will embody venues, official lodges and the occasion’s personal transport service.

Absolutely vaccinated members will have the ability to enter the closed loop with out quarantining, whereas those that aren’t vaccinated might want to quarantine for 21 days upon arrival in Beijing.

Medical exemptions, thought of on a case-by-case foundation, could also be granted to those that are unvaccinated. Some nations, such because the US and Canada, have mandated that each one group members be vaccinated.

Through the Video games, members can be topic to each day well being monitoring and testing and could have no contact with most people.

“The loop could be very secure. It is a spot that I’d say could be very tough to check with every other place on the earth at this time limit, as a result of we have now right here a completely vaccinated, typically boosted inhabitants that’s being examined each day with a PCR and dwelling in a closed loop,” Pierre Ducrey, Olympic Video games operations director for the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC), informed reporters on January 12.

Ducrey added: “It’s referred to as a closed loop for that very cause. It means there can be no contact between individuals outdoors the loop and contained in the loop. It has been constructed to guard the inhabitants inside, and likewise the inhabitants outdoors.”

Returning a confirmed constructive take a look at will imply members can’t compete or proceed their position within the Video games; those that are symptomatic will keep at a delegated hospital for remedy, whereas those that are asymptomatic can be transferred to an isolation facility.

Final month, Huang Chun, a member of the native organizing committee, accepted that the Video games may carry “Covid-19 circumstances or small clusters of infections” into China provided that “a lot of abroad personnel will collect, inflicting a really excessive threat of transmission.”
Over the course of the pandemic, the nation has applied a zero-Covid coverage of mass testing, intensive quarantines and snap lockdowns to eradicate any emergence of the virus.

Will followers attend?

Tickets for the Video games won’t be bought to most people in response to the pandemic, however as an alternative distributed by authorities, the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee introduced on January 17.

“By way of the grim and complicated state of affairs of epidemic prevention and management [and] to be able to shield the well being and security of Olympic personnel and spectators, we have now determined to vary the unique plan of public ticket gross sales,” the committee mentioned.

Audiences will nonetheless be required to “strictly adjust to Covid-19 prevention and management necessities earlier than, throughout and after watching the Video games,” the committee continued.

The announcement comes after Beijing reported its first case of the extremely transmissible Omicron variant on January 15.

The place are the venues?

Whereas the Chinese language capital of Beijing is the official host metropolis of the Video games, venues are unfold throughout three areas: Beijing, Yanqing — a mountainous district 75 kilometers (about 46.6 miles) northwest of Beijing — and Zhangjiakou, a snowboarding and snowboarding vacation spot an extra 100 kilometers (about 62.1 miles) past Yanqing.

Of the 13 venues internet hosting occasions, one — the Nationwide Pace Skating Oval — has been newly in-built Beijing, whereas present venues have additionally been renovated for the Video games.

The Beijing Nationwide Stadium, generally known as The Fowl’s Nest, will host the opening and shutting ceremonies.

Every of the three zones has its personal Olympic Village, whereas all three are related by a newly constructed, intercity railway.

The National Aquatics Center (left) and the National Indoor Stadium (right) will both host events during the Winter Olympics.

Who’re the Olympic and Paralympic mascots?

The mascot for the Winter Olympics is Bing Dwen Dwen — a panda wearing a full-body “shell” made out of ice — and Shuey Rhon Rhon for the Paralympics, a Chinese language lantern baby.

Bing Dwen Dwen (Bing means ‘ice’ in Mandarin Chinese language, whereas Dwen Dwen means ‘baby’) was chosen from over 5,800 submissions from around the globe.

The “shell” design permits the panda — China’s nationwide animal — to skate, snowboard and ski.

Shuey Rhon Rhon (left) and Bing Dwen Dwen (right) are installed in Beijing on January 11.
Based on the Paralympic web site, Shuey is similar pronunciation because the Chinese language character for ‘snow,’ the primary Rhon means ‘to incorporate, to tolerate,’ and the second means ‘to soften, fuse and heat.’

What’s the political controversy surrounding Beijing 2022?

The US, Canada, Australia and the UK are among the many nations to have introduced diplomatic boycotts of the Winter Olympics.

That implies that athletes from these nations will nonetheless have the ability to compete in Beijing, however no authorities officers can be in attendance.

In December, White Home press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned that the boycott would function a “clear message” in opposition to China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes in opposition to humanity in Xinjiang.”

Based on the US State Division, as much as two million Uyghurs and different Muslim minorities are believed to have handed via detention facilities in Xinjiang, which the Chinese language authorities insists are “vocational coaching facilities” geared toward poverty alleviation and combating non secular extremism.

Following the announcement of the US diplomatic boycott, Chinese language Overseas Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian mentioned that the US ought to “cease politicizing sports activities and hyping up the so-called ‘diplomatic boycott’ in order to not have an effect on China-US dialogue and cooperation in necessary areas.”

As for athletes, the controversies across the Video games can current an ethical dilemma. Final 12 months, US snowboarding star Mikaela Shiffrin, a three-time Olympic medalist, informed CNN that “you definitely do not need to be put within the place of getting to decide on between human rights, morality versus with the ability to do your job.”

Who’re the athletes to look at?

Shiffrin, who has lately returned to alpine snowboarding’s World Cup circuit after contracting Covid-19, is ready to be one of the high-profile athletes in Beijing. On the final Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, she received gold within the big slalom and silver within the alpine mixed.

Different acquainted faces on the US group will embody snowboarder Shaun White, who anticipates that this can be his final Olympics, 2018 halfpipe gold medalist Chloe Kim — the youngest girl to win an Olympic gold in snowboarding — and fashionable determine skater Nathan Chen.

Two-time determine skating gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan will go up in opposition to Chen in his bid to win a 3rd consecutive gold medal within the males’s singles occasion.

Mikael Kingsbury, essentially the most embellished mogul skier of all time, may even be heading to Beijing to attempt to defend his title from 2018.

China, not as dominant on the Winter Olympics in comparison with the Summer time Video games, received 9 medals in 2018.

Nathan Chen breaks short program record at US Figure Skating Championships
Among the many host nation’s finest prospects of successful gold this time is American-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu, who received world championship titles in halfpipe and slopestyle final 12 months.
Based on sports activities knowledge firm Gracenote, Norway — whose athletes typically excel in cross nation snowboarding and biathlon — is predicted to high the medal desk with 45 medals forward of the Russian Olympic Committee with 32, Germany with 25, and the USA and Canada with 22.

Why is North Korea going to overlook the Video games?

One nation to have introduced that it’ll not be sending athletes to Beijing is North Korea.

Based on state-run information company KCNA, a letter despatched from North Korea’s Olympic Committee and Ministry of Bodily Tradition and Sports activities to its Chinese language counterpart cited “hostile forces” and the worldwide pandemic as the explanations for its non-participation, accusing america and its allies of making an attempt to stop the profitable opening of the Olympics.

The US and its allies are getting “evermore undisguised of their strikes in opposition to China geared toward stopping the profitable opening of the Olympics,” the letter, which didn’t explicitly cite diplomatic boycotts, mentioned.

Final 12 months, the IOC suspended the North Korean Olympic Committee till the tip of 2022 as a part of its punishment for its “unilateral resolution” to drop out of the Tokyo Olympics, successfully barring the nation from formally competing in Beijing.

The IOC mentioned on the time that if any North Korean athletes had been to qualify for the Winter Olympics via processes already happening, it “will take an acceptable resolution sooner or later for the athlete(s) involved.”

North Korean athletes did compete on the 2018 Video games, with athletes from the North and South marching collectively underneath one flag on the Opening Ceremony. A North Korean delegation was additionally despatched to South Korea throughout the Video games.

CNN’s Nectar Gan contributed reporting to this piece.

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