All eyes are on China, as Beijing hosts its first Winter Olympics this year. The 24th Winter Olympic Games have athletes from all around the world competing in over 7 sports to win the coveted Olympic medals for their home countries. However, Beijing 2022 has been fielding controversies since before its beginning. From political and diplomatic boycotts to doping scandals, this has been one of the most controversial Winter Olympics to date. Learn all about the games scheduled, the rising tensions and the highlights of the ongoing winter games in China’s capital city of Beijing.
Caption: Darcy Sharpe (CAN) in motion.
The past couple of years have undoubtedly been tumultuous for the sporting fraternity. With the implementation of stricter health and safety restrictions to regulations on public attendance to isolating in a bubble, sports all over the world have been rife with tensions. However, the show must go on. Amidst rising political tensions and concerns of safety, the 2022 Winter Olympics were greenlit by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be held in this year’s host nation, China. The games, which began officially on February 4, 2022, will go on till February 20, 2022.
Incidentally, Beijing 2022, as the games are commonly known, makes Beijing the first Olympic city to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Games. Take a look at the month of games planned, highlights till date, and all the scandals currently shadowing the Winter Olympics of 2022.
Caption: Snowboarded Julia Marino (USA) with her Silver Medal.
Beijing 2022 Olympic Sports
Beijing is hosting a total of seven sports across 15 disciplines. This means that within the overall sport, smaller events for variations will be held. The seven primary sports are Biathlon, Bobsledding, Curling, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skating, Skiing. Within them are disciplines, with Skiing having the most – six disciplines – covered under its name.
In total, the fifteen medalling sports at the Winter Olympics 2022 are Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Skeleton, Curling, Ice Hockey, Luge, Figure Skating, Short Track Speed Skating, Speed Skating, Cross-Country Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Freestyle Skiing, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping, and Snowboarding.
Caption: Figure Skater Nathan Chen (USA) went on to win gold.
The IOC has come under fire for choosing China as the host nation, citing, among other reasons, the ongoing human rights violations in China. The Uyghur genocide, Chinese policies against Tibet, the Hong Kong protests – these were just a few of the many concerns raised by the sports fraternity and the public alike.
It has been claimed that the country bid to host the Olympic games in an attempt to alter its public image in yet another example of using the Olympic games for sportswashing. The November 2021 disappearance of Peng Shuai, a Chinese Olympian tennis player, brought back the controversies into focus.
Over 10 countries have chosen a diplomatic boycott of the games, including India. No state officials from these 10 countries will be in attendance at the games, although athletes will be participating. Additionally, many athletes have been advised to carry burner phones and use VPNs at the games for their own security.
The current scandal raging at the games is the doping of 15-year-old Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) figure skater Kamila Valieva. She led her team to the gold medal in the team event, following which it was revealed that she failed a doping test. The IOC has time and again failed to address the abuse allegations levelled against the ROC coaches.
This time too, the teen figure skater bears the brunt of the scandal while her coaches and perpetrators – including her primary coach, Eteri Tutberidze, who has been public about her abusive and stringent training regimens for kid athletes – once again go scot free.
The IOC cleared her to compete in the singles events, to the great consternation of the figure skating community. If she wins a medal, there will be no ceremony held. It is important to note here that Russia is currently undergoing a four-year ban from all international sport for its previous proven doping scandals.
The games, however, have had their moments of joy, faintly echoing the sentiments of international sport. The highlight till now has been the skating events, where multiple athletes have gone on to set records the likes of which have never been seen before.
Speedskater Irene Wüst (NED) became the first athlete to have taken home an individual gold medal across five Olympics.
Another Dutch speedskater, Irene Schouten, broke two Olympic records: one for the women’s 3000 m speed skate (timed at 3:56:93, breaking the 2002 record of 3:57:7) and another for the women’s 5000 m speed skate (timed at 6:43:51, breaking the 2002 record of 6:46:91).
Nathan Chen (USA) competed in the men’s figure skating singles short program against other world champions to earn a score of 113.97, setting a new world record. The previous record was held by the figure skating legend Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN).
While Chen may have won gold at the men’s singles figure skating event, all eyes were on the defending champion, two-time Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu, who took to the ice and created history with the first ever certified quadruple Axel – said to be an impossible jump in figure skating. It was later revealed that he attempted the jump despite severe injury to his right foot, bringing into focus the perils of these games.
Olympic Munchies: Fast Facts about the 2022 Winter Olympic Games
The Paralympic Winter Games: These games will be held in Beijing as well, and will begin from March 4 to continue till March 13, 2022.
Where To Watch: If you are watching from India, the Olympic Channel is available via the official website for viewing all events live. India is also eligible for the live YouTube broadcasts. We suggest you view the games through the official Olympic Channel for the live commentary.
Mascot: Bing Dwen Dwen, a giant panda, is the official mascot of Winter Olympics 2022. ‘Bing’ means ice, while ‘Dwen Dwen’ symbolises children. The mascot’s message is to empower the Olympic spirit.
Stats: This Winter Olympics has 91 countries competing for over 109 medals in 7 sports across 15 disciplines. The total number of athletes competing is said to be around 2871. Many have tested positive for COVID and have had to withdraw from their respective competitions while undergoing quarantine.
Is This Brilliant or Bizarre? Norway has dominated the Winter Olympics medal board and is the country with the most medals across all Winter Olympics. Oslo had bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic games but withdrew its bid citing IOC violations and environmental concerns. The Norwegian team continues to play strong at Beijing.
India’s Pride: Believe it or not, India has an athlete competing at the games this year! Alpine Skier Arif Khan represents the country in the Slalom and Giant Slalom events. Although he failed to qualify for the medallist rounds, we are filled with pride for his wonderful performance and stellar sportsmanship!