This is not the Olympics Beijing hopes to host.
When China was awarded the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in a surprisingly close vote by the International Olympic Committee seven years ago, few could have predicted how the world and host nation would have changed by the time they arrived.
But here they are: at the beginning of the third year of the pandemic; when the second consecutive Olympics closed with almost all the fans; and at a time when an increasingly confident China has made clear its intention to host one of the world’s largest and global sports glasses tournaments. purely on its terms.
To get to this point, China has overcome obstacles that once made Beijing’s effort seem like a long shot; overcome new ones by exit the game (and, it hopes, coronavirus) in a self-contained community the size of a small city; and reject condemnation on the world stage it violates human rights, treats its neighbors harshly and its increasingly authoritarian behavior.
China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, who once put his personal credibility first in backing Beijing’s efforts, recently hailed the Olympics as a showcase for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Combining sport and power politics, he will host Russian President Vladimir V. Putin on Friday, the opening day, when the crisis is over. Ukraine continue.
However, for a mighty and proud China, and for its grateful IOC partners, it will also be the first Olympics – especially as it sees Beijing become a world leader. first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Its Olympics will be the first new seven disciplinesfor a new generation of athletes and for much of China, where winter sports are gaining popularity.
Of course, the race is not without problems. Russian, Czech and Norwegian groups reported the coronavirus outbreak that could jeopardize their medal hopes. At least two American sleds also tested positive. But the big stars remain: Mikaela Shiffrin in Alpine skiing. Chloe Kim and Shaun White in skiing. Figure skater Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu.
As in past Olympics, there will be athletes whose stories transcend borders, like Chinese-American freestyle skier Eileen Gu, who will chase gold in three events, and others try to cement the legacy in their disciplines. Johannes Klaebo, a Norwegian cross-country skier, will try to win six medals in one Olympics. Ireen Wüst, a Dutch high-speed cyclist, will aim to win a medal in the fifth consecutive Olympics. And then there’s Claudia Pechstein chasing one of her men, a little hard to believe, at the age of 49.
Their hopes and challenges will emerge 17 days after Friday’s opening ceremony, beaming to the world from behind (mostly) closed doors, when the crowds will be absent but triumphant, disappointed. , drama and heartbreak would be all too real.
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/02/02/sports/olympics-winter-beijing Olympics 2022: Live updates from Beijing