Eventful 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics come to close

By Lorena Cantó and Jesús Centeno

Beijing, Feb 20 (EFE).- Politicized before they even began by a diplomatic boycott led by the United States, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics felt the effects of geo-political tremors in the international community but they also demonstrated the efficiency — and harshness — of China’s tough pandemic restrictions.

In the absence of Washington officials and their Western allies, it was Russian president Vladimir Putin who starred at the opening ceremony on February 4, which encapsulated global geopolitical schisms.

Western officials refused to attend the Winter Olympics in protest of China’s alleged human rights abuses against the mainly-Muslim Uighurs community in Xinjiang province, something Beijing has denied.

The United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet could visit the region, home to 12 million Uighurs, later this year depending on whether Beijing grants her permission to freely interact with civil society and officials.

Politics took a backseat when the Games got underway, however, as the focus shifted to the snow and ice, as well as the strict protocol surrounding the event, which took place without crowds.


Foreign athletes, delegations and journalists spent the duration of the Winter Olympics in a tightly-controlled social bubble with no contact with the local population, who had to follow the event on TV or on social media, where coverage was ubiquitous.

Covid-19 outbreaks registered in China in January, including in the capital — which was hosting its second Olympics following the summer games in 2008 — prompted authorities to enforce strict measures including school closures in a bid to keep Beijing coronavirus-free in time for the sporting event.

The majority of Covid-19 cases inside the Olympic bubble were detected at the airport as the teams and journalists arrived. The total sum of cases at the Olympics was just over 400, some 270 of which were registered at the airport.

Some athletes who tested positive complained about the draconian quarantine conditions they were forced to observe.

The local volunteers and workers inside the bubble will have to observe a two-week quarantine before they can return to normal life in the city.


Female athletes became the face of these Winter Olympics, although not always for the right reasons.

California-born Chinese skier athlete Eileen Gu — also known as Gu Ailing — won two golds and a silver for China at the 2022 Beijing Games, consolidating her star status.

Kamila Valieva, the Russian ice skating sensation, stole headlines for the wrong reasons when the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared her to compete despite the fact she tested positive for a banned substance in a test last year. The 15-year-old could still be retrospectively disqualified. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button