2022 Winter Olympics to begin Wednesday, games to see US-led diplomatic boycott
Winter Olympics will go through to Feb. 20, Olympic Torch relay scheduled for Feb. 2-4, around 1,200 torchbearers were said to attend.
The 2022 Olympic Winter Games will start in Beijing on Wednesday in the shade of a US-led diplomatic boycott and coronavirus pandemic.
The first day of the quadrennial sporting event will see curling and luge contests, but Beijing 2022's opening ceremony is scheduled to be held on Friday, Feb. 4.
Beijing is set to become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The Chinese capital previously hosted the 2008 Summer Games.
But before the ceremony, Alpine skiing, curling, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, and ski jumping competitions will be played on Thursday, and Saturday will see medal events in several disciplines such as biathlon, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, short track speed skating, ski jumping, and speed skating.
The Winter Olympics will go through to Feb. 20, when medal games and the closing ceremony will take place.
There will be 15 disciplines in the 2022 Games, including famed ones such as Alpine skiing, curling, figure skating, ice hockey, ski jumping, snowboard, and speed skating.
Nearly 3,000 athletes from 91 countries will compete in this year's Winter Olympics.
Beijing 2022 to see diplomatic boycott
The 2022 Olympics in the Chinese capital will see a diplomatic boycott of many Western nations.
US, UK, Australia and Canada announced that they imposed a diplomatic boycott each for concerns about China's human rights record.
It means there will not be official delegations or ministers of these countries for the games, but their athletes will participate in the Beijing 2022.
In a press conference in December 2021, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki cited China's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses."
"US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual, in the face of the [People's Republic of China] PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang," said Psaki.
According to UN data, at least 1 million Uyghurs are kept against their will in places Beijing calls "vocational training centers," which critics call places for indoctrination, abuse, and torture.
Several countries have accused China of committing genocide against Uyghurs. Beijing has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations as "lies and (a) political virus" used by the West to malign China.
Famed sports channel not to send reporters to Beijing for COVID
US sports channel ESPN said in late January that it would not send news staff to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over COVID-19.
"Due to concerns about COVID-19 and other COVID-related restrictions, ESPN will not be sending any news personnel to the Winter Olympics in China and will instead focus on covering the Games remotely with a robust plan that will roll out prior to the beginning of competition next month," ESPN said in a statement.
Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and event and studio production & executive editor, said that they care about their employees' health and safety, so the channel decided to keep them in the US during Beijing 2022.
Route of Olympic Torch
The Olympic Torch relay is scheduled for Feb. 2-4 as nearly 1,200 torchbearers were said to attend it.
The route and duration of the torch relay were reduced as per health and safety measures because the coronavirus pandemic still has effects.
"The three host zones of the Games Beijing's city proper, Beijing's Yanqing District and the city of Zhangjiakou in the neighboring Hebei Province will welcome this traditional relay," the Olympics said.
Featuring the Beijing 2022 emblem, the torch that spirals upward was made of carbon fiber materials. It weighs 1.1 kilograms (2.4 pounds), and is resistant to -40 centigrade degrees or Fahrenheit, and uses hydrogen fuel.
The dominant colors of it are red and silver and it has cloud and snowflake patterns to refer to winter.
Athletes to follow in Beijing 2022
Several important names are expected to shine at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
US skier Mikaela Shiffrin, 26, is expected another successful performance. She already has two Olympic golds (2014 Sochi - slalom, 2018 Pyeongchang - giant slalom) and seven world championships.
Hanyu Yuzuru of Japan is the second athlete in history to win consecutive figure skating golds (2014 Sochi - singles, 2018 Pyeongchang - singles) after Dick Button's two medals at St. Moritz 1948 and Oslo 1952.
Mikael Kingsbury had bagged the gold medal in Freestyle skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics after his two silver medals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
COVID-19 policy in Winter Games
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) established several COVID-19 regulations for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
All vaccines recognized by WHO or related international organizations, or approved officially by the countries or regions concerned, will be accepted and the participants not fully vaccinated will have to serve a 21-day quarantine upon arrival in Beijing.
A closed-loop management system will be implemented, which means the participants will be allowed to move only between Games-related venues for training, competitions and work.
All domestic and international Games participants and workforce in the closed-loop management system will be tested daily.
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