06 Jan 2022 | 02:20 | News
All eyes (including sports) on China.
Exactly one month is left before the start of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
The “Olympic Fever” is growing and there are also concerns about the success of the event.
The rehearsals for the inaugural ceremony on February 4th and for the awards in Medals Plaza (this is the name of the place for public awards) are proceeding at a fast pace, but on the XXIV Winter Olympic Games, hosted by the Chinese capital 14 years after the 2008 summer ones, Many clouds loom: starting with the pandemic, of course, to continue with the diplomatic boycott (which does not involve athletes) announced by several countries (including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).
Many NGOs had long called for a boycott of the Olympics to protest against the dire human rights situation in China, particularly pointing to the treatment of Uighurs (Muslim minority) in the Xinjiang region.
In December, Joe Biden’s US administration announced that it would not send an official representation to the Games precisely because of the “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights violations”.
Beijing has warned that the United States and other countries will “pay their price” for the boycott, which the Chinese government calls “an affront”.
Among the Chinese “quarrels”, at this moment, there is also the case of the tennis player Peng Shuai .
Disappeared for almost three weeks, after accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, 40 years her senior, of “forced” sex during a relationship that lasted several years, Peng Shuai mysteriously reappeared in some videos showing her in public in China, but that were not enough to dispel doubts about its security and freedom of movement and expression.
Despite the promise of “green, inclusive, open and clean” Games, which environmental activists doubt, Beijing remains under the threat of smog, especially in winter.
As for the “diplomatic” controversies surrounding the 2022 Olympics, Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned: “The political manipulation of some Western politicians will not harm the enthusiasm of the Olympics, it will only prove their nullity.”
Yet the expectation grows, as explained by the Olympic super fan Zhang Wen Quan , a collector … with five circles.
“I collect torches, mascots, badges, stickers, banners, books, games, music, clothes, tickets, a little bit of everything …
The Olympics make me very happy and give me a great sense of belonging”.
Meanwhile, China continues its “Zero-Covid” strategy against the pandemic, even with long quarantines imposed on the inhabitants of entire metropolises.
The 13 million inhabitants of Xi’an, for example, were confined to their homes for nearly two weeks.
The organizers have established a rigorous protocol: all athletes must be vaccinated or face a two-week quarantine before the Games and undergo daily tests and no one will be able to leave the “Olympic bubble”.
The first consequence of the Omicron variant, however, is that hockey players from the North American league, the NHL, will not be able to participate in the Games.
“We are concerned,” admitted David Shoemaker, general secretary of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
“We are confident that these Games can still take place safely, but we are living for the day,” added Shoemaker.
Spectators will be allowed in the competition venues (only Chinese or resident in China): however, an improvement compared to the Tokyo Olympics behind closed doors last summer.
Hoping that the artificial snow does not melt …
December 11th, 2021
December 11th, 2021