The Winter Olympics are already underway

The opening ceremony took place on February 4: the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, just like the summer Olympics before it, are feeling the pandemic hit, together with protests and diplomatic boycotts. For its part, the Olympic Committee has called for athletes to be "responsible" in how they approach political issues.

The competition began on February 2 and the closing ceremony will take place on February 20, with the games being held in three different areas of China: Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou. In addition, the ice sports will be held in downtown Beijing, as well as some snow events (snowboard big air and freestyle ski big air, men’s, and women's).

 

Ticket sales to the public were cancelled

Initially, the organization had decided to sell tickets only to China residents China to reduce the risk of Covid-19 contagion. But, come mid-January, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that only specific groups of spectators would be allowed, cancelling the sale of tickets to the public due to the pandemic. The Winter Games are being held in a restricted “health bubble”, from which sportsmen and women and other participants are not expected to leave.

With 109 total events across 15 disciplines in 7 different sports, the competition will bring together 2,871 athletes, with 1,581 men and 1,290 women.

They are Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Nordic Combined, Curling, Alpine skiing, Cross-country skiing, Freestyle skiing, Ice field hockey, Luge, Figure skating, Speed skating, short track speed skating, Ski jumping, Skeleton and Snowboarding.

This edition will have seven new medal events, with the introduction of several categories for women, the arrival of men's freestyle skiing, the “big air”, and several mixed competitions.

Portugal will be represented at the 2022 Winter Olympics by three athletes. Ricardo Brancal and Vanina de Oliveira will compete in alpine skiing, and José Cabeça in cross-country skiing.

 

The controversy

The persecution of the Uighur population for birth control in the autonomous province of Xinjiang, the treatment given to Tibetan people, and the repression of freedoms in Hong Kong are some of the several political foci that overshadow this event and that have already led to several diplomatic boycotts by several countries.

The United States and the United Kingdom were the most prominent to announce a diplomatic boycott, without any representative at these games, particularly in the ceremonies – while maintaining a sports presence –, and they were followed by many others. Canada and Australia, among others, followed suit in withdrawing their diplomatic and political support without harming the participation of their national athletes. On January 19, the European Parliament also recommended a "diplomatic and political boycott" to member states.

Criticism of the event also extended to the apparent disappearance for some time of tennis player Peng Shuai, who accused a former Chinese ruler of sexually assaulting her, recalling the closeness of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the Chinese government.

Portugal will not have political representation at the opening and closing ceremonies "for various reasons," claimed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, although the ceremony was attended by another Portuguese, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres.

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