The long grueling wait is over. First the coronavirus pandemic that risked wiping out everything, worse than the constant wind blowing from the Gobi desert, and then the boycott threat promoted by the United States for human rights violations in northwest China against ethnic Muslims of the Uighurs. This afternoon Beijing returns to brand itself with the five Olympic circles.
The majestic Chinese capital had already been Olympic, in 2008, for the Summer Games when COVID-19 did not exist and thousands of tourists swarmed between Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Now it is no longer possible to indulge in evenings under the banner of lacquered ducks or typical Chinese dishes because the square, like the rest of the city, is off-limits to all those who have entered the great ‘anti-covid bubble’ of the Games.
Beijing has already set the record: it is the first city in the world to have hosted both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Games. Together with Oslo, it’s the second capital to have hosted the Winter Olympics. As of today, the XXIV edition of the Winter Olympic Games will begin.
We will enter the atmosphere of the competition. We will enter the great Olympic blender which will end on Sunday, February 20, when the baton will pass to Italy, for ‘Milan Cortina 2026’. The opening ceremony will take place at the Bird’s Nest stadium, or as per the historic Communist denomination, the ‘Chinese National Stadium’.
The real protagonists of the Games are the athletes, 2,874 (1,291 women and 1,583 men) representing 91 Nations. There will be the absolute novelty of Haiti and Saudi Arabia. Medals will be awarded in 109 events with almost gender equality: 52 men’s competitions, 46 women’s competitions and 11 mixed competitions.
The real protagonists of the Games are the 2,874 athletes representing 91 Nations.
The guiding thread will be peace and unity. The concepts that will be highlighted during today’s opening ceremony are China’s desire and willingness to pursue world peace, and the exaltation of the Olympic motto ‘faster, higher, stronger – together’. The word ‘together’ was recently introduced by the International Olympic Committee, and serves as the Beijing 2022 slogan, “together for a shared future”.
It promises to be a cool evening, as evening temperatures have been hovering below zero, but still, full of emotions. The organisers have ensured that the show and the choreography will be even more beautiful than those of 2008. The solemn opening declaration of the Olympic Games this afternoon will go to the host par excellence, the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping.
In a video message opening the 139th session of the International Olympic Committee on the eve of the Beijing 2022 inaugural ceremony, Xi told delegates that China was ready and “will dedicate to the world with all its heart the Olympic Games which will be simple, safe and exciting, and will practice the Olympic motto of faster, higher, stronger, more united”. He thanked the IOC for “the long-term positive contribution” it had made to the development of Chinese sports, and for its “strong support and guidance” in China’s candidacy and preparation for the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Alongside the Chinese leader there will be the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach and the president of the organising committee of Beijing 2022, as well as secretary of the communist party in Beijing, Cai Qi. First among world political leaders attending is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Almost all the presidents of the former Soviet republics are expected, from Kassym-Jomat Tokayev of Kazakhstan to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, leader of Turkmenistan.
Also in the stands will be Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, Prince Albert II of Monaco, the President of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres and his predecessor Ban Ki-moon.
This afternoon, evening in Beijing, the sacred fire of Olympia will return to illuminate the world of sport for the third consecutive time in the Far East: Pyeong Chang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and now Beijing 2022. – AGI