Tuesday, January 18

One month before their opening, the Beijing Olympics face risks and controversies

There will be 30 days on Wednesday before Beijing will host the 2022 Olympic Games, the Winter Olympics which will have an unusual exposure, against a backdrop of diplomatic boycott, coronavirus and questions around the fate of tennis player Peng Shuai.

With this event scheduled from February 4 to 20, the Chinese capital will be the first city to host the Winter Games after the Summer Games in 2008, more prestigious and considered at the time as the celebration of a country rising in Powerful.

This time around, Beijing is especially keen to rule out risks and controversies.

Pursuing a strategy of total eradication of Covid-19 in the country, China will set up a “health bubble” for the some 3,000 athletes and people mobilized for the organization of competitions.

Despite a promise of “green, inclusive, open and clean” Games, which environmental activists doubt, Beijing remains under the threat of a fog of pollution, particularly in winter.

As for the controversies surrounding the Olympics-2022, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi warned: “The political manipulation of some Western politicians will not harm the enthusiasm of the Olympic Games, but will only expose their own nullity”.

– “Zero-Covid” strategy –

NGOs have long called for a boycott of the Olympics to protest against China’s poor human rights record, particularly pointing to the treatment of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.

In December, the Biden administration announced that it would not send official representation to the Games because of “the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights violations.”

Beijing has warned that the United States will “pay the price” for this affront, but that did not prevent Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada from joining the diplomatic boycott, although athletes from these countries will participate. well in competitions.

Another hot issue: the Peng Shuai affair.

The tennis player and doubles specialist disappeared for nearly three weeks after accusing ex-Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, 40 years her senior, of “forced” sex during a relationship that resulted in lasted for several years.

Videos showing her since in public in China have not been enough to dispel doubts about her safety and her freedoms of movement and expression.

These Olympics will also be the second after those in Tokyo last summer to be disputed under the threat of Covid.

China, where the coronavirus appeared at the end of 2019, has established a so-called “zero-Covid” strategy aimed at suppressing any spread of the virus through severe border restrictions, long quarantines and targeted lockdowns. The 13 million inhabitants of Xi’an must therefore stay at home for nearly two weeks.

– “We are worried” –

Omicron should not be at the origin of this last outbreak, relatively small compared to other countries, but this highly contagious variant constitutes a new challenge for the organizers of the Olympic Games.

First consequence of Omicron: the hockey players of the North American championship, the NHL, will not be able to participate in the Games.

“We are concerned,” conceded David Shoemaker, secretary general of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

“We are confident that these Games can still be played safely, but we are taking it day to day,” he told local media.

The organizers have established a drastic protocol: all athletes must be vaccinated, under penalty of being placed in quarantine for two weeks beforehand, undergo daily tests and no one will be allowed to leave the “Olympic bubble”.

There will be spectators to attend the events, an improvement over the Tokyo Olympics, but none can come from abroad.

In sporting terms, China is not a major nation of the Winter Olympics (62 medals, including 17 gold), but it expects a lot from a Californian by birth, Eileen Gu, 18, who has chosen to represent China, the country of his mother.

The 2021 two-time freestyle skiing world champion is unrivaled in halfpipe and slopestyle, and can even aim for a golden treble if she lines up in Big Air.


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