Beijing Winter Games kick off amid pandemic and boycotts

Beijing, Feb 4 (EFE) – The contested Winter Olympic Games kicked off on Friday as Beijing became the first city in history to host both Summer and Winter Games.

Marred by the coronavirus pandemic and strict health protocols, the Games gets underway amid political tensions over allegations of human rights abuses and boycotts promoted by the United States.

While China has adopted a ‘zero Covid’ policy, authorities have decided to hold the Olympic Games behind closed doors without selling tickets to the general public.

Only members of the Communist Party or staff from government-controlled companies have been invited.

The opening ceremony, which lasted only 100 minutes, was hosted by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Ymou, who also directed the opening and closing ceremonies in the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.

Along with heads of state, Chinese president Xi Jinping, Russian president Vladimir Putin, president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach and secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres presided over the ceremony while senior officials from the US, United Kingdom and Canada among others are not coming as part of a diplomatic boycott.

China has denied accusations of alleged human rights abuses and dismissed the boycotts as “politicisation”.

In total, 3,000 athletes will take part in the Games, which will feature 109 events in 15 different disciplines.

Most of the snow on the slopes in Beijing is artificial due to the impact of climate change leaving arid mountains in the region which are typically snowed during this time of the year. EFE


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