China will host the XXIV Olympic Winter Games, from 4 to 20 February 2022. Beijing became the first city in history to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The competitions will be held at the new facilities and the existing arenas built for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The official Olympic mascot will be a giant panda named Bing Dwen Dwen (in Chinese, Bing means ice, purity and strength, and Dwen Dwen means healthy, strong, and cheerful). Bing Dwen Dwen is dressed in a magic ice suit, has a heart of gold, and loves all winter sports. The panda is the national symbol of China.
The organizers of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have already reported their readiness to stage the sports events; major facilities and infrastructure are complete. One of the main challenges is ensuring safety in a pandemic through a closed-loop system planned for the Games, separating athletes from the local population. The organizers have approved nearly one hundred hotels which are now available for booking in the service sector. Menus have already been drawn up in a way that considers the food preferences of different people.
With the COVID-19 outbreak being the biggest challenge for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, more than 40 medical facilities will provide services during the competition period. At the same time, Beijing’s epidemiological safety measures program stipulates that those coming to the Olympics must be inoculated at least 14 days before departure for China. People who break the rules will face warnings and even possible disqualification.
Seven new disciplines will be added to the 2022 Winter Olympics program: the mixed relay in short track, mixed team events in ski acrobatics, ski jumping and snowboard cross, men’s and women’s freestyle big air, as well as the women’s monobob competitions. The Chinese men’s hockey team currently remains on the list of participants for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) board will continue its deliberations on this matter on December 6.
Beijing 2022 Olympic Games coincide with the Chinese New Year, the country’s main holiday. These days there are colorful fireworks and traditional processions with huge dragons and lions. One of the most striking and unforgettable spectacles of New Year’s Eve Beijing is the Lantern Festival.
Chinese President Xi Jinping “invited his good friend President Putin to China for the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. President Putin gladly accepted the invitation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the other day. “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agreement to attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is an important decision that is directly linked to the special nature of Sino-Russian relations,” Chinese media reported today.
In 2008, when China hosted its first-ever Olympic Games, the opening ceremony in Beijing was attended by more than 80 heads of state, including US President George W. Bush, who expressed concern about the human rights situation in China on the eve of his visit. In particular, the US leader referred to the Tibetan issue.
Although China has significantly increased its international standing and global influence in recent years, Washington’s outright anti-China stance has seriously damaged Beijing’s relations with the West, where it is now considering boycotting the 2022 Olympics. Calls for a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games were initially heard mainly from Western human rights groups, but political forces soon adopted them in Canada, Norway, and the United Kingdom. However, the prominent ideologues of the boycott are US lawmakers and the current US political establishment. Nevertheless, the US National Olympic Committee is categorically against the boycott, and the G20 leaders also spoke out in favor of holding the Olympics during their last meeting in Rome.
As early as this summer, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian noted that the US was intentionally using the topic of the so-called human rights issue as a pretext to denigrate China. As Reuters reported on October 28, a group of US senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties, led by Republican Senator Mitt Romney, proposed an amendment to the budget bill that would impose a diplomatic boycott on the China Olympics—prohibiting the US Secretary of State from allocating federal funds to support or facilitate visits to the games by US federal agency officials. Allocating these funds to the athletes and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committees, their employees and contractors, will not be prohibited.
Back in May, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the international community for a diplomatic boycott of the Chinese Olympic Games. Under Washington’s apparent influence, the European Parliament passed a resolution in the summer urging diplomats to ignore the Olympics, and a similar document was approved in Britain. It is true that these resolutions are only recommendations to governments and do not refer to athletes. According to The Times, the UK government is now in active discussions about a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Prime Minister Boris Johnson are among the most vocal supporters of the boycott.
To raise the heat on the issue, a public scandal involving the allegedly suspicious disappearance of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai was promoted through the Western media in early November, which spread over tennis. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reacted to the public disappearance of the two-time Wimbledon doubles champion, with talk of a boycott or even possible cancellation of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
For the first time the other day, US President Joe Biden publicly confirmed that America is considering the prospect of a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics because of human rights abuses in China. And while US officials say they don’t want to “punish” American athletes and remove them from the competition, some politicians are calling for a complete boycott of the “genocidal Olympics.”
Against this backdrop, Chinese media noted that in connection with the 2022 Olympics, “some Western forces are making yet another variety of slanderous attacks.” And the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin is going to Beijing is not only good news but also a resounding slap in the face to those Western politicians who are calling for a boycott of the Games and trying to use the Olympic movement in their political tricks.
Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.