Winter Olympics begin in Beijing

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Following the Tokyo games held last summer, the Olympics are kicking off once again with its opening ceremony premiering today. The Beijing Winter Olympics will consist of sports such as figure skating, skiing, and ice hockey, among others. Now that the games are in full swing, here’s what Harrisites need to know about the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. 

Harrisites will be able to watch the games live on NBC Universal which won the bid to broadcast to American audiences. 84 countries will be participating and Team USA will be represented by 214 athletes. 

Freshman Sophia DiRienzo, who is on the THHS Girls’ Track Team, said that she did not watch last year’s Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo but will “probably watch the Beijing Games because [she] enjoys watching figure skating.” 

Physical Education teacher Matthew Lemanczyk said, “Honestly, there are two sports I am looking forward to most at the Olympics. The first one is snowboarding and the second one is curling.” 

Amidst diplomatic tensions, the US and nine other Western countries will not send government representatives to the Olympics due to human rights concerns. Throughout history, governments have boycotted the Olympic Games to bring attention to political disputes. 

This time, the controversy comes after experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, the world’s leading body on human rights, scrutinized Chinese authorities for alleged abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, including operating forced labor camps and detention centers. The US State Department called the Chinese Government’s actions genocide. 

Freshman Azreen Abrar, who represented China at the Townsend Harris Model UN, said that she supported the boycott because she believes “that the US should stand up for the Uyghur Muslims as they are living in insanitary conditions, facing constant genocide, and harassment in the camps.” However, she also acknowledges the consequences of this, “boycotting the games could cause serious ramifications for not only China, but also other countries, because China is a major economic player and a world power that other countries depend on.”

COVID-19, especially the Omicron variant, remains a primary health concern for the Olympics. According to the South China Morning Post, the Olympic Committee will create a closed loop to separate athletes and Olympics personnel from the local population. The closed loop will also include lengthy quarantine requirements for athletes who test positive.

There are mixed opinions in the student body on whether the Winter Olympics should happen. “I think having an Olympics is safe this year as long as strict protocols are followed,” freshman Joseph Au said. On the other hand, junior John Walsh thought that the Olympics was unsafe, and said that “Maybe it would be safe in the summer or after the Omicron surge is over.”

This year’s Olympics will also feature seven new sports, notably Men’s and Women’s Freeski Big Air, and Mixed Team Aerials.

The Beijing Winter Olympics is set to officially start today, and will run until February 20.