Now that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan is over, the world is excited for the 2022 Winter Olympics. This international competition will take place in Beijing, China, from February 4 to 20, 2022. Aside from Beijing, the games will also take place in surrounding provinces.

China got chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in July 2015. During that session of the International Olympic Committee in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the leaders decided that China would host the last games in East Asia for this batch. True enough, the two recent games were in South Korea (in 2018) and Japan (and 2020).

The 2022 Winter Olympics will primarily get celebrated in the Beijing National Stadium. It will include 109 events in seven Olympic sports disciplines. Furthermore, the motto of the event commemorates the unity of all nations towards a shared future.

If nothing changes, Chinese President Xi Jinping will open the 2022 Winter Olympics. The details of the cauldron ceremony are yet to be released. The following winter games in 2026 will be in Milan and Cortina, Italy. Because of this, on the day of the closing ceremony, Beijing mayor Chen Jining will give the Olympic flag to Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee. Then, he will pass it to the mayors of the Italian cities that will host the next games.

Where will the 2022 Winter Olympics be?

In February of this year, the Chinese government said that the Olympic Games would be in 26 venues in Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou. The buildings will depend on renewable energy, an admirable step in the fight against climate change and pollution.

These venues in Beijing include the Beijing National Aquatics Center (for curling), the Beijing National Indoor Stadium (for ice hockey), and the National Speed Skating Oval (for speed skating). The China National Convention Center will become the hub for the International Broadcast Center during the games.

The Olympic Green, the Wukesong Arena (or Cadillac Center), and the Capital Indoor Stadium will also facilitate the games. These structures have been China’s architectural pride on the world stage. Aside from their beauty and cultural significance, the venues feature lush spaces and gardens.

Furthermore, the newly built Big Air Shougang was developed in the city’s urban district for the snowboarding and freestyle skiing Big Air games. Meanwhile, the 15,000-seater Capital Indoor Stadium will facilitate the figure and short-track speed skating games.

When China hosted the Olympics in 2009, the government built a village near the Olympic Green. But since then, the 2009 Beijing Olympic Village has become a permanent residence. Because of this, Beijing built a new Winter Olympic Village near the National Olympic Sports Center.

In the mountainous parts of the Yanqing District, 90 kilometers away from Beijing, competitions will get held also. The venues in the Xiaohaituo area will involve alpine skiing, bobsleigh, skeleton, and luge games. Engineers will place artificial snow there because natural ones are rare in these regions. A media center and Olympic Village got constructed here as well.

Zhangjiakou City in the Hubei province will become the venue for the other ski games. Its nomination as a location for the Olympic games transformed the city. Zhangjiakou, which is 220 kilometers away from Beijing, has become a tourism hotspot. In 2015 and 2016, statistics say that the ski resorts there welcomed over two million tourists, earning over $237 million during the snow season.

Because of its fame during those years, Zhangjiakou hosted 23 skiing camps for thousands of children and 36 competitions. The government then proceeded to build the Olympic venues until the last months of 2020.

The Genting Hotel will become the Media Center of the International Broadcast Center. Meanwhile, the Kuyangshu Nordic Center and Biathlon Center will become the venue for cross-country skiing. The biathlon event will get held in the Hualindong Ski Resort. The Thaiwoo Ski Resort, the Wanlong Ski Resort, and the Genting Snow Park will become the venue of the different snowboarding competitions. As for accommodations, the government constructed a new Olympic Village in Zhangjiakou.

The Beijing-Zhangjiakou Intercity Railway, inaugurated in 2019, will connect the different Olympic venues. With speeds of 350 kph, athletes, delegates, and staff can travel between the cities in less than an hour. The government also continues constructing the Beijing Subway that can accelerate to 781 kph.

Opened in 2019, the Beijing Daxing International Airport will be the primary landing area for the Olympic delegates. It will operate with Beijing Capital International Airport.

What were the bidding details and budget for the 2022 Winter Olympics?

The International Olympic Committee declared in October 2012 that countries may apply for hosting until November 14, 2013. In 2014, the Executive Board selected Oslo, Almaty, and Beijing.

However, the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports backed out from application because their parliament disagreed with the budget proposal. The Norwegians also had a distaste for the members of the International Olympic Committee who demanded luxury treatment and exclusive advertising.

In the end, with four more votes, Beijing defeated Almaty during the bidding process. China’s budget for the 2022 Winter Olympics is $3.9 billion.

What’s special in the 2022 Winter Olympics?

Beijing was also the host of the 2008 Summer Olympics. So, for the first time, the Winter Olympics will be facilitated by a host that handled the Summer Olympics also. This past involvement makes it easier for Beijing to prepare venues since it will reuse the buildings built for the 2008 Olympics.

In 2018, the International Olympic Committee expressed that the games must include more women and attract younger people. This game will only be six months apart from the earlier Summer Olympics, a gap last seen in 1992. The qualifying games for curling and women’s ice hockey got rescheduled. It is because of the postponement of the Summer Games in 2020.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will include new winter games for the first time. In the Nordic combined winter sport, the International Ski Federation allowed women’s competitions. Ski jumping and big air freestyle skiing became included in the Olympics as well. Aside from these competitions, the International Ski Federation also proposed the inclusion of telemark skiing, parallel sprint, aerials events, snowboard cross team event, alpine parallel events, parallel special slalom, and other winter game events.

The International Luge Federation suggested adding natural track luge and sprint events. Similarly, the International Skating Union proposed synchronized skating and mixed team short-track speed skating in the Olympics.

They are not the only organizations that pushed for more winter games in the Olympics. The International Biathlon Union promised the single mixed relay biathlon. Also, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation wanted two add new team events for these sports.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will get remembered in history for taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic. To prevent its spread, the athletes must remain in a biologically contained zone throughout their stay. Travel and public safety restrictions will get implemented as well. Moreover, all the athletes must get vaccinated against Covid at least twice. They may also present a medical exemption certificate. If not, they must get quarantined for 21 days after entering China. Only Chinese residents can watch the Olympic Games in the venues.

Which nations will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics?

Russia’s penalty will remain during the Winter Olympics. The World Anti-Doing Agency decided that Russia must be banned from global sports competitions from 2019 to 2023. It is because of the Russian government’s involvement in injecting banned enhancing drugs to their athletes. But in 2020, Russian athletes can participate in the Olympics under the acronym ROC standing for the “Russian Olympic Committee.” The athletes are considered neutral, and they can only use the ROC flag.

The International Olympic Committee also banned North Korea from joining the 2022 Winter Olympics. During the 2020 Summer Olympics, they did not send athletes, an act against the Olympic Charter. But they can assign neutral athletes like Russia.

Eighty nations signed up for the 2022 Winter Olympics. These include Haiti (which will make its debut) and Peru (which did not participate in the 2018 Winter Games).

What are the broadcasting arrangements for the 2022 Winter Olympics?

In France and Britain, Eurosport (under Discovery) will provide coverage for the Winter Olympics. The British Broadcasting Corporation will only license limited free-to-air coverage. But in China, the host nation, the show rights belong to China Central Television and China Mobile.

NBCUniversal will broadcast the 2022 Winter Olympics in the United States as stated in the company’s contract with the International Olympic Committee. For the first time, the 2022 Super Bowl will coincide with the Olympics. So NBC gave the Super Bowl slot to the Columbia Broadcasting System.

What are the issues surrounding the 2022 Winter Olympics?

For many decades, the International Olympic Committee and the Games have been rife with concerns. But given the political climate regarding China, the 2022 Winter Olympics is especially controversial.

Starting with the lighter issues is the theme song. Some musicians and artists say that the theme song for the Games is similar to “Let It Go,” a famous song from the Disney movie Frozen.

Despite China’s efforts to only consume renewable energy during the games, environmentalists still raise their worries. Since the layers of snow still have to be artificially transported to the venues, it might cause an imbalance in the ecosystem. It is also expensive. Furthermore, some of the locations are close to the Songshan National Nature Reserve.

But the most serious controversy in the 2022 Winter Olympics is the call for a boycott. In the past five years, China became smeared with accusations of genocide in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Also, the Hong Kong protests placed China in a negative reputation. For these reasons, the World Uyghur Congress and some senators from the United States pleaded with the International Olympic Organization to reassess the 2022 Olympics. The British government even threatened that the United Kingdom would not participate in the Games.

China is also involved in a trade war with Australia, making the Olympics unpopular in the Land Down Under. Australian senators heeded the people’s call, but their proposition against the Winter Olympics got voted down. The Canadian parliament had the same diplomatic threat to China.

Months before the 2022 Winter Olympics, many more American politicians and human rights organizations suggested boycotting the Games. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom reiterated that the United States must not participate in the Beijing Olympics if the Chinese government continues persecuting religious minorities. Both Republicans and Democrats expressed the same threats. However, despite his stance against China, former President Donald Trump said that boycotting the Winter Olympics is mistreatment against American athletes.

China did not tolerate these diplomatic threats. The Global Times publication (which is run by the Chinese Communist Party) said that it would severely punish any nation that will boycott the games for political reasons. The spokesperson of the Chinese government also said those moves would fail anyway.

Amid these diplomatic scuffles, the International Olympic Committee declared that it stands neutral from political disputes. It allows nations to host games without approving of their social policies and human rights climate. In a statement, the Committee said that it has no power over governments. Instead, it only gives nations the chance to facilitate the Olympics. Moreover, the International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates once expressed that they will not bring up the accusations of genocide to the Chinese.

But many experts and observers say that what happened to North Korea’s Olympic athletes is an example to other nations. It seems that its decision to ban North Korea for not participating in the Summer Olympics serves as a warning. The message is this: the countries that will not partake in the 2022 Winter Games will get banned also.

This messaging does not stop protesters, however. During the traditional flame ceremony at the ancient Olympian temple, protesters spoke against what they called “the genocide games.”

Controversial or not, the 2022 Winter Olympics should be an opportunity to unite the countries and enjoy the match between their best athletes.

Categories: Sports

Nicolas Desjardins

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