Winter Olympics 2022: China’s Showcase Event

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Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 begin on 4 February. Despite the spectre of Omicron hanging overhead, China wants to make this a grand event.

  • Since the Beijing Summer Olympics of 2008, China is now set to host the Winter Olympics 2022 and it’s leaving no stone unturned to make this a global spectacle a grand success.
  • China of 2022 is much stronger economically, geo-politically, technologically, but it’s also doubled down on its authoritarian credentials, suppressed minorities and cracked down on opposition.
  • Given China’s zero-Covid policy and these Olympics being held at a time when Omicron is running rampant, the Winter Games will be held inside a “Beijing-wide bubble”.
  • Games venues, Olympics village, transportation across arenas will be completely isolated from the rest of Beijing. Citizens won’t be allowed to watch games in person unless authorised.
  • While tests will be conducted regularly, if any athlete is found to be positive they will have to isolate or quarantine - effectively preventing them from participation.
  • This kind of “bubble” approach has been tried by the NBA for one team. Applying this across multiple venues for an event with 11000 participants is an unprecedented move.
  • China will be opening up its ‘Great Firewall’ for foreign athletes, but privacy activists are still sounding the alarm on surveillance. Many athletes have been advised to carry burner phones.
  • Foreign athletes have also been warned from using social media to voice their opinions on sticky topics in China, such as the human rights issues around the oppression of Uyghur minorities.
  • For China, the Winter Olympics 2022 is not just a games-related extravaganza, but also an opportunity to reiterate its supremacy when it comes to pulling off events of this scale despite Covid.
  • In this reading, we take a look at the various aspects around the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 and how China is preparing for any possible challenge which it could bring.
The Washington Post
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