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Antorcha de los Juegos Olímpicos de Invierno 2022 en Beijing.
The passion of the Olympic flame burns strong these days. Photo: @Beijing2022.

Beijing 2022: A new Winter Olympics is here

Amid constant controversy over attacks on human rights in China, the Winter Olympics is preparing for its opening ceremony.

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Despite the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing being scheduled for Friday, Feb. 4, the first competitions at the Games opened on Wednesday, Feb. 2, just one day after celebrating the Chinese New Year.

Beijing, which is now the first city in the world to host a Summer and Winter Olympics, opens amid a diplomatic boycott led by the United States and joined by Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan.

All the sports delegations will attend the event normally, adding a total of about 3,000 athletes. The tense relations between Washington and Beijing show no signs of easing.

Although the United States has frequently pointed to the violation of human rights in China, this time, the boycott is a result of the mysterious events surrounding the disappearance of the Chinese tennis player, Peng Shuai, after she denounced alleged abuse by a member of the Chinese government.

During the announcement of the boycott made by U.S. Press Secretary Jen Psaki, accusations of "genocide and crimes against humanity" in a region of northwestern China were also mentioned.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has remained on the sidelines of the controversy, keeping with its old motto of not mixing sport with politics, and has tried to downplay it by ensuring that the important thing at the Olympics is the athletes.

Muralla China en invierno

Background

Another recent diplomatic boycott of an Olympic Games was in the 2014 Winter Games, in Sochi, Russia. Then-president of the United States Barack Obama did not attend the games as well as the diplomatic delegations from Germany and France. At that time, the reason was a rejection of the attack on the rights of homosexual people by the Russian government

During the Cold War, boycotts took place for 1980's Summer Olympics in Moscow and 1984's Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In the first, the United States joined more than 60 countries to punish the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In the second, the Soviet Union, in retaliation, led more than a dozen allies not to attend the games in California.

What about COVID?

In accordance with the protocols approved by the IOC, the games will be held in a "closed bubble" that will be installed between Jan. 23 and March 13, after the end of the Paralympic Winter Games, covering stadiums, accommodation and food venues, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.

Spectator admission has been authorized only for those living in mainland China.

The show must go on

Despite the outrage of human rights activists and several athletes have raising their voices to protest the abuses in Chin despite the pandemic, the 109 competitions across 15 sports will still happen.

The opening and closing ceremonies will be held at the Beijing National Stadium, starting on Feb. 4 and ending on Feb. 20. Both start at 7 a.m. GMT-5.

The broadcast for the United States will be handled by NBC.

To follow the official schedule of the Winter Olympics, click here.

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