2022 Winter Olympics

The 2022 Winter Olympics (2022年冬季奥林匹克运动会), officially called the XXIV Olympic Winter Games (Chinese: 第二十四届冬季奥林匹克运动会; pinyin: Dì Èrshísì Jiè Dōngjì Àolínpǐkè Yùndònghuì) and commonly known as Beijing 2022 (北京2022), was an international winter multi-sport event held between 4 and 20 February 2022 in Beijing, China, and surrounding areas with competition in selected events beginning 2 February 2022.[1]

XXIV Olympic Winter Games
Beijing 2022 Olympic official emblem
Emblem of the 2022 Winter Olympics
Host cityBeijing, China
Motto
  • Together for a Shared Future
  • (一起向未来; Yīqǐ xiàng wèilái)
Nations91
Athletes2,871
Events109 in 7 sports (15 disciplines)
Opening4 February
Closing20 February
Opened by
Cauldron
StadiumBeijing National Stadium
Winter
Summer
2022 Winter Paralympics

Beijing was selected as host city in 2015 at the 128th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, marking its second time hosting the Olympics, and the last of three consecutive Olympics hosted in East Asia following the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Having previously hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing became the first city to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The venues for the Games were concentrated upon Beijing, its suburb Yanqing District, and Zhangjiakou, with some events (including the ceremonies and curling) repurposing venues originally built for Beijing 2008 (such as Beijing National Stadium and the Beijing National Aquatics Centre).

The Games featured a record 109 events across 15 disciplines, with big air freestyle skiing and women's monobob making their Olympic debuts as medal events, as well as several new mixed competitions. A total of 2,871 athletes representing 91 teams competed in the Games, with Haiti and Saudi Arabia making their Winter Olympic debut.

Beijing's hosting of the Games was subject to various concerns and controversies including those related to human rights violations in China, such as the Uyghur genocide, which led to calls for a boycott of the games.[2][3] Like the Summer Olympics held six months earlier in Tokyo, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the implementation of health and safety protocols, including restrictions on public attendance at the Games.

Norway finished at the top of the medal table for the second successive Winter Olympics, winning a total of 37 medals, of which 16 were gold, setting a new record for the largest number of gold medals won at a single Winter Olympics. The host nation China finished third with nine gold medals (albeit in eleventh place by total medals), marking their most successful performance in Winter Olympics history.[4]

Bidding processEdit

The bidding calendar was announced by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in October 2012, with the application deadline set for 14 November 2013.[5] The IOC Executive Board reviewed the bids from all applicant cities on 7 July 2014 and selected three cities, Oslo (Norway), Almaty (Kazakhstan), and Beijing (China), as the final candidates.[6]

Several cities withdrew their bids during the process, citing the high costs or the lack of local support and funding for hosting the Games.[7] The Oslo bid, considered the clear frontrunner, was canceled in the wake of a series of revelations about the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) demands for luxury treatment of IOC members that strongly turned public opinion and the parliamentary majority against the bid. The city withdrew its application for government funding after a majority of the Norwegian parliament had stated their intention to decline the application. In the days before the decision Norwegian media had revealed the IOC's "diva-like demands for luxury treatment" for the IOC members themselves, such as special lanes on all roads only to be used by IOC members and cocktail reception at the Royal Palace with drinks paid for by the royal family. The IOC also "demanded control over all advertising space throughout Oslo" to be used exclusively by IOC's sponsors, something that is not possible in Norway because the government doesn't own or control "all advertising space throughout Oslo" and has no authority to give a foreign private organization exclusive use of a city and the private property within it.[8] Several commentators pointed out that such demands were unheard of in a western democracy; Slate described the IOC as a "notoriously ridiculous organization run by grifters and hereditary aristocrats."[9][10][11][12] Ole Berget, deputy minister in the Finance Ministry, said "the IOC's arrogance was an argument held high by a lot of people."[13] The country's largest newspaper commented that "Norway is a rich country, but we don't want to spend money on wrong things, like satisfying the crazy demands from IOC apparatchiks. These insane demands that they should be treated like the king of Saudi Arabia just won't fly with the Norwegian public."[13]

Beijing was selected as the host city of the 2022 Winter Olympics after beating Almaty by four votes on 31 July 2015 at the 128th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

2022 Winter Olympics bidding results
City Nation Votes
Beijing   China 44
Almaty   Kazakhstan 40

Development and preparationEdit

VenuesEdit

 
Location of the three Beijing 2022 clusters
 
Beijing National Stadium
 
National Aquatics Center
 
Beijing National Speed Skating Oval
 
Shougang Big Air Venue

In February 2021, Beijing announced that the 26 venues (including training venues) for these sports would be running on entirely renewable energy.[14][15]

Beijing ZoneEdit

Five ice events were held at the Olympic Green, the Capital Indoor Stadium and the Beijing Wukesong Sports Center, which were some of the main venues of the 2008 Summer Olympics. The Big Air snowboarding and freestyle skiing events were held in a former industrial area in Shijingshan District, at Western Hills area.[16] Since the end of 2009, the Beijing Olympic Village apartments on the Olympic Green have been transformed into a residential area. Therefore, there was a need to build another Olympic Village on a smaller scale for the Winter Olympics. These new buildings are located in the southern area of Olympic Green on the neighbour area of the National Olympic Sports Center.[17]

Yanqing District is a suburban district localized at the Beijing's far north. Competitions for luge, skeleton, bobsleigh and alpine skiing were held in Xiaohaituo Mountain area in the West Dazhuangke village[18] of Zhangshanying in Yanqing District, northwest of the urban area of Beijing, 90 kilometres (56 miles) away from the city center of Beijing and 17.5 kilometres (10.9 miles) away from the town of Yanqing, using artificial snow because of the rarity of natural snow in this region.[19][20]

Zhangjiakou ZoneEdit

All other skiing events were held in Taizicheng Area in Chongli District, Zhangjiakou city, Hebei province. It is 220 km (140 mi) from downtown Beijing and 130 km (81 mi) away from Xiaohaituo Mountain Area. The ski resort earned over ¥ 1.54 billion (US$237.77 million) in tourism during the 2015–16 winter season for a 31.6% growth over the previous season. In 2016, it was announced that Chongli received 2.185 million tourists, an increase of 30% from the previous season, during the first snow season after winning the Olympic bid. The snow season lasted for five months from November, during which Chongli has hosted thirty-six competitions and activities, such as Far East Cup and Children Skiing International Festival. A total of twenty-three skiing camps have also been set up, attracting the participation of 3,800 youths. All the venues construction started in November 2016 and was finished by the end of 2020 to enable the city to hold test events.[21][needs update]

MedalsEdit

The design for the Games' medals was unveiled on 26 October 2021. The concept is based on traditional Chinese astronomy and astrology as the games were held coinciding with the Chinese New Year festivities.[22]

The uniforms for medal presenters at medal ceremonies were unveiled in January 2022.[23] The uniforms have been designed by the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology.[23]

Torch relayEdit

 
A torch serves as the cauldron in Yanqing

The torch relay started on 18 October 2021 in Greece. On 20 October 2021, it was announced that the local leg would start on 2 February and end on 4 February 2022 during the Opening Ceremonies. The local leg only visited two cities: Beijing and Zhangjiakou.[24] Activists staged a protest at the Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Greece.[25]

The inclusion and television appearance of Qi Fabao, a People's Liberation Army commander well known in China for his involvement in the 2020–2021 China–India skirmishes, as one of 1,200 torchbearers have been controversial, with India launching a diplomatic boycott of the Games as a result.[26]

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemicEdit

 
Buses serving the Olympic bubble have red stickers on front and rear

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in changes in the qualifying process for curling and women's ice hockey due to the cancellation of tournaments in 2020. Qualification for curling was based on placement in the 2021 World Curling Championships and an Olympic Qualification Event that completed the field (in place of points earned across the 2020 and 2021 World Curling Championships). The IIHF based its qualification for the women's tournament upon existing IIHF World Rankings, without holding the 2020 Women's World Championship.[27][28]

On 29 September 2021, the IOC announced biosecurity protocols for the Games; all athletes were required to remain within the bio-secure bubble for the duration of their participation, which includes daily COVID-19 testing, and only being allowed to travel to and from Games-related venues. Unless they are fully-vaccinated or have a valid medical exemption, all athletes were required to quarantine for 21 days upon the arrival. Mirroring a protocol adopted for the 2020 Summer Olympics before they were moved behind closed doors, the IOC also announced that only residents of the People's Republic of China would be permitted to attend the Games as spectators.[29][30]

On 23 December 2021, the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) announced that they had agreed to withdraw their players' participation in the Games' men's hockey tournament, citing concerns over COVID-19 and the need to make up games that had been postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks.[31] As part of their latest collective agreement with the NHLPA, the NHL had agreed to accommodate a break for the Olympics and player participation for the first time since 2014.[32]

On 17 January 2022, amid increasing lockdowns across China and the first detected case of the Omicron variant in Beijing, it was announced that ticket sales to the general public were cancelled, and that limited numbers of spectators would be admitted by invitation only. These, therefore, became the second Olympics in a row that were closed to the general public.[33] In the lead-up to the Games, organizers stated that they had aimed for at least 30% capacity at each venue.[34]

Everyone present at the Games, including athletes, staff, and attendees, were required to use the My2022 mobile app as part of the biosecurity protocols, which was used for submissions of customs declarations and health records for travel to the Games, daily health self-reporting, and records of COVID-19 vaccination and testing. The app also provided news and information relating to the Games, and messaging functions. Concerns raised about the security of the My2022 app and how information collected by it would be used.[35][36]

Because of the strict COVID-19 protocol, some top athletes, considered to be medal contenders, were not able to travel to China after having tested positive, even though they were feeling well and had no symptoms. The cases included Austrian ski jumper Marita Kramer, the leader of the World Cup ranking,[37] and Russian skeletonist Nikita Tregubov, silver medalist of the 2018 Olympics.[38]

TransportationEdit

 
CR400BF-C-5162 has been converted to a dedicated train for the Winter Olympics.

The new Beijing–Zhangjiakou intercity railway opened in late 2019, starting from Beijing North railway station and ending at Zhangjiakou railway station. It is built for speeds of up to 350 km/h (220 mph); with this new road system, the travel time from Beijing to Zhangjiakou has decreased to around 50 minutes. A dedicated train for the Winter Olympics began to run on this line in January 2022, featuring a CCTV mobile television studio that supports live broadcast on the train.[39]

The Beijing Subway was expected to continue expanding and by 31 December 2021, it was 783 km (487 mi) in length.[40][needs update]

Planned before the city was awarded the rights to the games, the Beijing Daxing International Airport opened in 2019. The airport replaced the Beijing Nanyuan Airport and since then the local and international demands with the older Beijing Capital International Airport.[41] However, according to the COVID-19 epidemic prevention manual issued by BOCWOG and International Olympic Committee, only the Capital Airport was allowed for the entry and exit of foreign delegations.[42]

BudgetEdit

The original estimated budget for the games is US$3.9 billion, less than one-tenth of the $43 billion spent on the 2008 Summer Olympics.[43] However, it was estimated that the true budget was likely more than US$38.5 billion, ten times higher than the original estimate.[44]

CeremoniesEdit

Opening ceremonyEdit

 
Winter Olympics countdown clock at Wangfujing Dept Store
 
A scene from the opening ceremony; in lieu of a cauldron, the Olympic torch was mounted in the centre of a large snowflake sculpture

The opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics was held on 4 February 2022 at Beijing National Stadium.

Amid the political controversies and tensions impacting the Games, IOC president Thomas Bach instructed athletes to "show how the world would look like, if we all respect the same rules and each other", and pledged that "there [would] be no discrimination for any reason whatsoever."[45]

The final seven torchbearers reflected multiple decades of Chinese athletes, beginning with the 1950s, and concluding with two skiers competing in the Games—21 year-old skier Zhao Jiawen from Shanxi (the first Chinese athlete to compete in Nordic combined), and 20-year-old Dinigeer Yilamujiang from the Xinjiang autonomous region (cross-country, and the first Chinese cross-country skier to win a medal in an ISF event).[46][47]

For the first time in Olympic history, the final torchbearers did not light a cauldron: instead, they fitted the torch into the centre of a large stylised snowflake, constructed from placards bearing the names of the delegations competing in the Games.[47] Three similar snowflakes were also erected as public flames, with one outside of the stadium lit by a volunteer, one in Yanqing District lit by speed skater Yu Jongjun, and the third in Zhangjiakou lit by skier Wang Wezhuo.[46]

Closing ceremonyEdit

The closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics was held at Beijing National Stadium on 20 February 2022; it included a cultural presentation, closing remarks, and the formal handover to Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo as hosts of the 2026 Winter Olympics.[48]

SportsEdit

The 2022 Winter Olympics include a record 109 events over 15 disciplines in seven sports.[49] There are seven new medal events, including men's and women's big air freestyle, women's monobob, mixed team competitions in freestyle skiing aerials, ski jumping, and snowboard cross, and the mixed relay in short track speed skating.[50]

Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of medal events contested in each discipline.

New eventsEdit

In October 2016, the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced plans to begin permitting women's competitions in Nordic combined, to contest the discipline at the Olympic level for the first time in Beijing.[51] In November 2017, a further three events were put forward by the FIS for possible Olympic inclusion: a ski jumping mixed team competition and men's and women's big air in freestyle skiing.[52] At their May 2018 Congress at the Costa Navarino resort in Messenia, Greece, the FIS submitted several additional events for consideration, including a proposal to make telemark skiing an Olympic discipline for the first time in Beijing, with proposed competitions to include the men's and women's parallel sprint and a mixed team parallel sprint. The Congress also approved to submit the aerials mixed team event, and several new snowboarding events: the men and women's snowboard cross team event; a mixed team alpine parallel event; the men's and women's parallel special slalom; and a mixed team parallel special slalom event.[53] The individual parallel special slalom events were featured at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but were dropped from the Olympic program in 2018 to make way for the snowboarding big air competitions.[citation needed]

The International Luge Federation (FIL) proposed the addition of six new events, including natural track luge (men's and women's singles), a women's doubles competition on the artificial track, and sprint events (men, women, and doubles) on the artificial track.[54][55]

The International Skating Union (ISU) continued to campaign for the addition of synchronized skating as a new event within the discipline of figure skating.[56] The ISU also proposed a new mixed team event in short track speed skating.[54]

In biathlon, a single mixed relay was proposed by the International Biathlon Union (IBU) to complement the four-person mixed relay that featured at the 2018 Winter Olympics.[54] Also, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) proposed a new team event, but there was no plan to introduce a four-woman bobsleigh event despite the recommendation from the federation's executive board to propose such an event in the interests of gender equality.[54]

In July 2018, the IOC announced changes to the program for the 2022 Winter Olympics as part of a goal to increase the participation of women, and appeal to younger audiences. Seven new medal events were added (expanding the total program to 109 events), including men's and women's big air freestyle, women's monobob, mixed team competitions in freestyle skiing aerials, ski jumping, and snowboard cross, and the mixed relay in short track speed skating.[57] Women's Nordic combined was not added; Nordic combined remains the only Winter Olympic sport only contested by men.[58]

Participating National Olympic CommitteesEdit

On 9 December 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned Russia from all international sport for four years, after the Russian government was found to have tampered with lab data that it provided to WADA in January 2019 as a condition of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency being reinstated. As a result of the ban, WADA planned to allow individually cleared Russian athletes to take part in the 2020 Summer Olympics under a neutral banner, as instigated at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but they were not permitted to compete in team sports. WADA Compliance Review Committee head Jonathan Taylor stated that the IOC would not be able to use "Olympic Athletes from Russia" (OAR) again, as it did in 2018, emphasizing that neutral athletes cannot be portrayed as representing a specific country.[59][60][61] Russia later filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the WADA decision.[62]

After reviewing the case on appeal, CAS ruled on 17 December 2020 to reduce the penalty WADA had placed on Russia. Instead of banning Russia from sporting events, the ruling allowed Russia to participate in the Olympics and other international events, but for two years, the team cannot use the Russian name, flag, or anthem and must present themselves as "Neutral Athlete" or "Neutral Team." The ruling does allow for team uniforms to display "Russia" on the uniform as well as the use of the Russian flag colors within the uniform's design, although the name should be up to equal predominance as the "Neutral Athlete/Team" designation.[63]

On 19 February 2021, it was announced that Russia would compete under the acronym "ROC" after the name of the Russian Olympic Committee although the name of the committee itself in full could not be used to refer to the delegation. Russia would be represented by the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee.[64]

On 8 September 2021, the IOC Executive Board suspended the Olympic Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) through at least the end of 2022 for violations of the Olympic Charter, over its refusal to send athletes to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo due to COVID-19 pandemic-related concerns. North Korean athletes would be allowed to participate under the Olympic flag.[65][66][67][68] However, North Korean Ministry of Sports and the National Olympic Committee said in a letter to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee, the Chinese Olympic Committee, and the General Administration of Sport of China on 7 January 2022 that "Due to the "action of hostile forces" and the COVID-19 pandemic, they would not be able to participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics."[69] In addition, the North Korean Olympic Committee said "supports all the work of our comrades in China to host a grand and wonderful Olympics. The United States and its followers are plotting anti-Chinese conspiracies to obstruct the successful hosting of the Olympics, but this is an insult to the spirit of the Olympic Charter and an act to damage China's international image. We firmly oppose and reject these actions."[70]

The following 91 National Olympic Committees have qualified athletes (two less than four years earlier), with Haiti and Saudi Arabia making their Winter Olympic débuts.[71][72] Kenya qualified one athlete, but withdrew.[73]

 
  The participating countries at the 2022 Winter Olympics
  Debuting countries at the Winter Olympics
  The yellow circle is the host city (Beijing)
 
Country by team size
Participating National Olympic Committees
NOCs that participated in 2018, but did not in 2022.[164] NOCs that participate in 2022, but did not in 2018.

Number of athletes by National Olympic CommitteeEdit

2,871 athletes from 91 NOCs:

CalendarEdit

Competition began two days before the opening ceremony on 2 February, and ended on 20 February 2022.[168] Organizers went through several revisions of the schedule, and each edition needed to be approved by the IOC.[169]

All times and dates use China Standard Time (UTC+8)
OC Opening ceremony Event competitions 1 Event finals EG Exhibition gala CC Closing ceremony
February 2022 2nd
Wed
3rd
Thu
4th
Fri
5th
Sat
6th
Sun
7th
Mon
8th
Tue
9th
Wed
10th
Thu
11th
Fri
12th
Sat
13th
Sun
14th
Mon
15th
Tue
16th
Wed
17th
Thu
18th
Fri
19th
Sat
20th
Sun
Events
  Ceremonies OC CC N/A
  Alpine skiing 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11
  Biathlon 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 11
  Bobsleigh 1 1 1 1 4
  Cross-country skiing 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 12
  Curling 1 1 1 3
  Figure skating 1 1 1 1 1 EG 5
  Freestyle skiing 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 13
  Ice hockey 1 1 2
  Luge 1 1 1 1 4
  Nordic combined 1 1 1 3
  Short track speed skating 1 2 1 1 2 2 9
  Skeleton 1 1 2
  Ski jumping 1 1 1 1 1 5
  Snowboarding 1 1 2 1 2 1 1 2 11
  Speed skating 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 14
Daily medal events 0 0 0 6 6 9 10 6 8 7 6 7 4 9 8 6 5 7 5 109
Cumulative total 0 0 0 6 12 21 31 37 45 52 58 65 69 78 86 92 97 104 109
February 2022 2nd
Wed
3rd
Thu
4th
Fri
5th
Sat
6th
Sun
7th
Mon
8th
Tue
9th
Wed
10th
Thu
11th
Fri
12th
Sat
13th
Sun
14th
Mon
15th
Tue
16th
Wed
17th
Thu
18th
Fri
19th
Sat
20th
Sun
Total events


Medal tableEdit

Norway finished at the top of the medal table for the second successive Winter Olympics, winning a total of 37 medals, of which 16 were gold, setting a new record for the largest number of gold medals won at a single Winter Olympics.[4] Germany finished second with 12 golds and 27 medals overall, and the host nation China finished third with nine gold medals, marking their most successful performance in Winter Olympics history.[4] The team representing the ROC ended up with the second largest number of medals won at the Games, with 32, but finished ninth on the medal table, as only six gold medals were won by the delegation. Traditional Winter powerhouse Canada; despite having won 26 medals, only four of them were gold, resulting in a finish outside the top ten in the medal table for the first time since 1988 (34 years).[170][171]

  *   Host nation

2022 Winter Olympics medal table[172]
RankNOCGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1  Norway1681337
2  Germany1210527
3  China*94215
4  United States810725
5  Sweden85518
6  Netherlands85417
7  Austria77418
8  Switzerland72514
9  ROC6121432
10  France57214
11–29Remaining233948110
Totals (29 NOCs)109109109327

Podium sweepsEdit

Date Sport Event Team Gold Silver Bronze Ref
15 February Bobsleigh Two-man bob   Germany Francesco Friedrich
Thorsten Margis
Johannes Lochner
Florian Bauer
Christoph Hafer
Matthias Sommer
[173]

MarketingEdit

EmblemEdit

 
Flower bed along Chang'an Avenue.

The emblem for the 2022 Winter Olympics, "Winter Dream" (冬梦), was unveiled on 15 December 2017 at the Beijing National Aquatics Center. Designed by Lin Cunzhen (who previously designed the emblem of the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing), the emblem is a stylized rendition of the Chinese character for winter (冬) as a multi-coloured ribbon, reflecting upon the landscapes of the host region. The beginning of the ribbon symbolizes an ice skater, while the end of the ribbon symbolizes a skier. The emblem carries a blue, red, and yellow colour scheme: the latter two colours represent both the flag of China, and "passion, youth, and vitality".[174]

MascotEdit

Bing Dwen Dwen was the mascot of the 2022 Winter Olympics. Bing Dwen Dwen was chosen from thousands of Chinese designs in 35 countries worldwide. "Bing" (冰) means ice in Chinese, and was meant to suggest purity and strength. "Dwen Dwen" (墩墩) was meant to suggest robustness, liveliness, and youth. Bing Dwen Dwen's astronaut-like clothes implied that the Winter Olympics embraced new technologies and created possibilities.[175]

SloganEdit

The Games' official slogan, "Together for a Shared Future" (Chinese: 一起向未来; pinyin: Yīqǐ xiàng wèilái), was announced on 17 September 2021; organisers stated that the slogan was intended to reflect "the power of the Games to overcome global challenges as a community".[176]

The slogan was compared in media with Chinese leader Xi Jinping's policy slogan: 'Building the Common Future of Humanity'.[177]

BroadcastingEdit

In China, domestic rights to these Games are owned by China Central Television (CCTV), with rights being sublicensed by China Mobile's Migu streaming service.[178] In some countries, broadcast rights to the 2022 Winter Olympics were already agreed upon through existing long-term deals. In France and the United Kingdom, these were the first Games where Eurosport would be the main rightsholder; the BBC sub-licensed a limited amount of coverage on free-to-air television, as part of a deal in which the BBC sold the pay-TV rights to the 2018 and 2020 Games to Eurosport.[179][180] In January 2022, the BBC announced it would broadcast over 300 hours of free-to-air live coverage, as well as highlighting programmes.[181][182]

The scheduling of the Games impacted the U.S. broadcast rights to the Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL) and historically the most-watched television broadcast in the United States annually. The rights to the game rotate between CBS, Fox, and long-time Olympic broadcaster NBC; to prevent the Games from competing for viewership and advertising sales with Super Bowl LVI—which was scheduled for 13 February 2022 at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium—CBS and NBC announced in March 2019 that they would swap the rights for Super Bowl LVI and LV (2021), so that both the 2022 Winter Olympics and Super Bowl LVI would be broadcast by NBC.[183][184] In a break from the established practice of airing premieres or special episodes of entertainment programmes after the Super Bowl to take advantage of its large audience, NBC aired its prime time coverage for Day 10 of the Games immediately following Super Bowl LVI.[185] Furthermore, the NFL's new media rights beginning in 2023 (which extends the Super Bowl rotation to four networks) codifies this scenario, with all of NBC's future Super Bowl games being in Winter Olympic years (2026, 2030, and 2034).[186][187]

This edition also confirmed an ongoing trend of declining viewership for the event on US, achieving historically the lowest television ratings.[188][189] However, it could be one of the most-viewed video events in U.S. history if online viewers are counted.[190][191][192]

Concerns and controversiesEdit

 
Demonstration of Tibetans and Uyghurs in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin against the Olympic Games in Beijing 2022
 
Protest by Tibetan independence groups against Chinese Winter Olympics (2022) held in Lausanne at the headquarters of the IOC

During the bidding process, critics questioned the Beijing bid, arguing that the proposed outdoor venue sites do not have reliable snowfall in winter for snow sports. Concerns have been raised that snow may need to be transported to the venues at great cost and with uncertain environmental consequences.[193][194]

Additional concerns about weather conditions were raised during certain events. Swedish athlete Frida Karlsson nearly collapsed after the women's skiathlon due to low temperatures.[195] Afterwards, the Swedes considered putting in a request for races to be moved to earlier in the day, stating that the afternoons and early evenings scheduled for European TV audiences were hurting the performance of the athletes.[196]

As with 2008, activists, human rights groups, and diplomats have made calls to boycott the Olympic Games when they are hosted by China. In the aftermath of the 2019 leak of the Xinjiang papers, the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests, and the Uyghur genocide,[197][198] calls were made for a boycott of the 2022 Games.[199][200][201] Because of these issues, the selection of an athlete from Xinjiang as part of the final torchbearers received a mixed reaction.[202][203][47]

In February 2021, the Chinese Communist Party-owned tabloid Global Times warned that China could "seriously sanction any country that follows a boycott."[204][205] In March 2021, Chinese spokesperson Guo Weimin stated that any attempt to boycott the Olympics would be doomed to fail.[206] Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also told the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell that they should attend the games to "enhance exchanges on winter sport", and to "foster new highlights" in bilateral cooperation.[207]

The IOC stated that it remains neutral in all global political issues and that the award of hosting the games does not mean that the IOC agrees with the political structure, social circumstances, or human rights standards in the country they are held in. The committee's response to Agence France-Presse read: "We've repeatedly said it: the IOC isn't responsible for the government. It only gives the rights and opportunity for the staging of the Olympic Games. That doesn't mean we agree with all the politics, all the social or human rights issues in the country. And it doesn't mean we approve of all the human rights violations of a person or people." The statement attracted criticism, with Pacific University professor Jules Boykoff accusing the IOC of "hypocrisy".[207]

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, The New York Times published a report alleging that China requested Russia to delay the invasion until after the Olympics to avoid damaging the Games' public image.[208] Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, has rejected the claims as "speculations without any basis, and intended to blame-shift and smear China".[209]

Non-attendanceEdit

 
Countries and Regions that announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics

Several countries declined to send any diplomats or official representatives to the games. The following countries have either specifically called their non-attendance a "boycott" or have exclusively stated that their non-attendance is due to human rights concerns:

The following countries also did not send any official representatives, but stated that their non-attendance was due to the COVID-19 pandemic or explicitly denied that they considered their non-attendance to be a diplomatic boycott:

Chinese leaders and media reacted to the diplomatic boycott by condemning it as a "politicization" of a sporting event.[226]

Environmental impactEdit

An estimated 49 million US gallons (190,000,000 l; 41,000,000 imp gal) of water was expected to be used to create snow at the various venues. Pyeongchang, South Korea, which held the previous Winter Olympics, also had a cold but similarly arid climate that required vast quantities of artificial snow. Professor Carmen de Jong, a geographer at the University of Strasbourg, argued that these would be the "most unsustainable" Winter Olympics in history. The IOC stated that "a series of water-conserving and recycling designs have been put into place to optimize water usage for snowmaking, human consumption, and other purposes.[227][needs update]

Artificial snow forms a harder piste compared to real snow. It is often favoured by professionals for being fast and "hyper-grippy" but also raises their fear of falling on it.[227][228] American snowboarder Jamie Anderson compared it to "pretty bulletproof ice" while her teammate Courtney Rummel compared it to the man-made snow in Wisconsin.[228]

According to Jules Boykoff in February 2022, Beijing's renewable electricity came largely from coal and this coal power was what supported the construction of some Olympic venues. To offset emissions from construction and air travel, China had planted roughly 60 million trees.[229]

Sporting controversiesEdit

There were concerns about decisions and disqualification in several events during the games. These issues included the following:

Athlete and officials complaintsEdit

The food and overall conditions in quarantine hotels given to athletes testing positive for COVID-19 were criticised early on.[246][247] Team officials from delegations including Belgium, Germany, Poland, Finland and the Russian Olympic Committee all brought up issues their athletes faced in quarantine hotels, among them were the lack of internet connections, low-quality food, insufficient facilities and no training equipment.[248][249][250]

With China's Zero-COVID policy, there were issues raised about the process of quarantine at the games.[246] On 2 February, Belgian skeleton athlete Kim Meylemans posted on social media and was in tears about the conditions she faced while in quarantine.[251][252] According to Newsweek and Time, the hotels' conditions appeared to have improved after the athletes' complaints were made public.[247][253]

There were some complaints about the food served outside of quarantine. Germany's alpine coach Christian Schweiger called the catering "extremely questionable" for not having hot meals but he echoed athletes from several nations that the food at the nearby Athletes' Village was great.[254] The US and South Korean teams elected to bring their own food.[255] Austrian skier Matthias Mayer said that Kitzbuehel would have offered "the best of the best" but also that a hot meal right before a race might not bring out top performances.[254][256]

Other complaints included low temperatures and related safety concerns. Sweden's Frida Karlsson nearly collapsed at the conclusion of the women's skiathlon cross-country race. Afterwards, her team considered requesting that races held in afternoons and evenings for European TV audiences be moved to earlier during the day.[257][195] Some athletes resorted to putting tape on their faces and noses to protect them from the bitter cold.[258] Heavy snowfall disrupted a number of competition and training events on 13 February. Thirty-three skiers did not finish their first run of the men's giant slalom. Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway said that he "couldn't see s**t." Switzerland's Loic Meillard said, "It's not what I was hoping for but it's part of the game ... we've raced in conditions like that before."[259]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Xi Jinping is current China's nominal head of state, serving as Chinese president. Xi is also the general secretary of the Communist Party, the most powerful position in China, serving as the Paramount leader of China.
  2. ^ Neutral athletes from Russia, competing under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee
  3. ^ NOC suspended.

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External linksEdit

Winter Olympics
Preceded by XXIV Olympic Winter Games
Beijing

2022
Succeeded by