What you need to know about the Beijing Winter Games

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The 2022 edition will be different from its predecessors. What would the health restrictions look like? How many athletes will compete? How much freedom of movement and expression will they have? DW answers five questions about the mega event The 2022 Winter Olympics opened Friday (4/02) in Beijing. The mega sporting event takes place amid a host of health and political issues. The United States and other countries imposed a diplomatic boycott of the event. This was how governments came up with to show their opposition to human rights abuses and abuses committed by the Chinese government – for example, the suppression of the ethnic Uyghur minority – without failing, however, to send athletes to the Games. Also of note is the current health crisis in China, which, like many other countries, has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. The government has imposed a series of regional lockdowns to contain the spread of the disease and subject athletes and foreign delegations to a strict control scheme. The Games’ opening ceremony was held on Friday at the Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest. Who is competing in the Winter Games? About 2,900 athletes from more than 90 countries will compete for the medals in Beijing. Among them is German Claudia Bechstein. At the age of forty-nine, the speed skater is participating for the eighth time in the Winter Games. She is the biggest athlete in competition. Until the closing ceremony on February 20, medals will be awarded in a total of 109 sports, up seven from the Pyeongchang Games in 2018. This is thanks to a combination of ski jumping, skiing, short track and figure skating. There will also be the first appearance of a women’s monobob event, in a sleigh. Unlike the Summer Olympics, there are only a few big stars at the Winter Games. These include American figure skaters Michaela Schiffrin, current Olympic champion, Japanese figure skater Hanyu Yuzuru, and Dutch speed skater Erin West. Brazil will participate with 11 athletes in the 2022 edition, in freestyle skiing, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, bobsleigh and skeleton. Where will the competitions be held? The sports action will be distributed in three locations: Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou. The Chinese capital will host ice skating competitions: speed skating, short track, figure skating and curling. Some of the facilities used for the 2008 Summer Olympics will also be used in 2022. The only new venue will be the speed skating venue. A private site built on a former industrial site will host freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions. Skiers, athletes, bobsled and bobsled, will have to travel 75 kilometers from the Olympic Village to Yanqing, where there are newly built snow and ski slopes. Zhangjiakou, about 180 kilometers from Beijing, will host some snowboarding and freestyle swimming, as well as biathlon, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and Nordic skiing. The three headquarters are connected to each other by high-speed rail lines. It is expected that there will not be enough natural snow in all three locations, making these games the first to be held with 100% artificial snow. Yanqing and Zhangjiakou are located in a nature reserve whose area has been adapted for games. What is the situation of Covid-19 in Beijing? The organizers promised to do everything they could to ensure “smooth winter games”. Part of the strict “Covid Zero” strategy is mass testing and contact restriction, including locking down entire regions or cities. All travelers to Beijing must be tested before boarding and disembarking, and can only move in “closed circles”. Daily PCR tests are mandatory, and results must be posted on the official My2022 app, along with body temperature and other updated health information. The app has been criticized for security and personal data protection concerns. There have also been concerns about testing due to the possibility of tampering. Those who test positive for the virus must remain in quarantine for ten days in a hotel, from which they can be released if they self-test with negative results. “The safety and health of the participants is our top priority,” said Zhao Weidong, a spokesman for the Beijing Organizing Committee. However, China has not achieved its goal of keeping the ubiquitous variant of the coronavirus outside the country’s borders. Despite the strict measures imposed because of it. For the epidemic, fewer Chinese citizens will be able to attend live events than expected. There will be no foreign spectators. Ticket sales to the general public were suspended last month. No side has been so long since the release of the Olympics received such criticism. In fact, the last time this happened was at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Many at the time hoped that the mega-event would bring about political change and a greater opening of China. Not only has this happened, but the political system has become more restrictive than before. The systematic suppression of the Uyghur and Tibetan minorities is taking place in China. In Hong Kong it has been effectively suppressed. Surveillance technologies were expanded across the country. Recently, there has been international concern about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai. The player was missing for a few days after she accused former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her. Because of these human rights concerns, some countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, decided to implement diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing Games. In the case of Germany, even with the country not officially joining the province, Federal Chancellor Olaf Schulz and other leaders said they would not travel to Beijing during the mega event. On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the opening ceremony of the Games, at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, although his country is not officially represented by a team. That’s because, in 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned Russia from all international sports for four years after an investigation concluded that Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency acted to protect the country’s athletes involved in sponsored doping. Planned by the state. Russian athletes can compete in Beijing as “neutral athletes”. Can athletes speak politically? “Any statement or behavior that goes against the Olympic spirit, especially Chinese laws and regulations, will have consequences,” a spokesperson for the Beijing Organizing Committee said. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) follows Olympic law, which states that political statements are permitted in press conferences, interviews or on social media, but not in competitions or medal ceremonies. The law also states that “applicable laws” must be observed, but it doesn’t go into more detail. However, it seems unlikely that any athlete would dare comment on the political situation in China. Author: Andreas Sten-Ziemons

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