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One Year to Go – Beijing 2022

The countdown is on to the next Winter Olympic Games that starts on February 4th 2022. Activities today are being done mainly online & digitally in these Covid-19 times. We examine how Beijing was awarded the Games and what they may may look like.

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Beijing is set to become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be split between three sites: one in the city itself, another in the city of Zhangjiakou, 125 miles from Beijing in Hebei province and a third in Yanqing, a mountainous region northwest of Beijing.

There will be 109 events in 15 disciplines.

We are going to see some new snowsports events:.

  • Men’s Ski Big Air
  • Women’s Ski Big Air
  • Snowboard Cross Mixed Team
  • Ski Aerials Mixed Team
  • Ski Jumping Mixed Team

There is though no room for telemark skiing.

We reported back in 2015 when Beijing was awarded the Games.

On Thursday 4th January, Thomas Bach, formally invited athletes to the Games.

It was part of the preview activities on Thursday that are digitally-led, centred around the resilience and strength of the athletes as they prepare for the Games.

A countdown event was held at the National Aquatics Centre which was used at the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics and which will be used for curling at the Winter Games.

The wider Olympic Movement is also using their digital and social media over the coming days to show their support for all the athletes preparing for Beijing 2022.

Here on PlanetSKI we have looked at the medal prospects for Team GB in this separate story:

Beijing effectively won the Games as all the other credible candidates and cities that expressed an interest  pulled out after a lack of political and popular support – Krakow (Poland), Lviv (Ukraine), Oslo (Norway),  Stockholm (Sweden), Davos/Klosters (Switzerland), Munich (Germany) and Barcelona (Spain).

When the vote came its only rival was Almaty in Kazakhstan.

Neither has a history of snowsports.

Beijing had a history of Olympic involvement.

The two venues where the skiing and snowboarding events are to be held, Zhangjiakou and Yanqing, are not expecting much natural snowfall.

Zhangjiakou has an average of 20cm of natural snow per year.

In Yanqing it is 5cm.

Competition will be mainly on artificial snow.

Of course many events do not need snow; ice hockey, skating and curling take place indoors.

The bobsleigh, luge and skeleton happen on ice on a specially prepared track.

Ski jumping can survive without much snow but it will be odd to see the backdrop brown rather than white.

In fact most FIS ski and snowboarding events take place on what is in reality artificial snow as thousands of gallons of water are sprayed on courses and the snowparks are sculpted.

They do need a base snowpack though.

Here on PlanetSKI we will be updating later today on the medal prospects for Team GB in both the Olympics and Paralympics.

There is a goal to becoming a force to be reckoned with in elite snowsport competition and Beijing will be the first real test of whether GB Snowsport is on track.

It wants to be among the top five in the world by 2030.

Covid-19 Impact on Beijing 2022

The threat of coronavirus has hung over the preparations.

The pandemic had its roots in China more than a year ago but the country appears to be heading back to normal now.

The organisers of the Beijing Games have also been watching Tokyo closely as it prepares for the Summer Games this year – that will continue as Tokyo 2021 takes place

The Beijing organisers are hopeful the Covid-19 situation will be back to some form of normality by this time next year.

“After the outbreak of COVID-19, Beijing 2022 not only prioritised the prevention and control of the pandemic, but also focused on Games preparations. We strive to overcome various difficulties and have made solid progress,” said Beijing 2022 Executive Vice-President, Zhang Jiandong.

As far as competition venues go, Beijing 2022 reported that these all remain on track with many completed.

Human Rights Concerns Over Beijing 2022

There remains the threat of boycotts due to China’s record on Human Rights.

According to Amnesty International, China’s human rights abuses include repression of minorities in the Xinjiang and Tibet regions.

Then there are the anti-democratic policies in Hong Kong.

A coalition representing Tibetan, Uyghur, Hong Kong and Chinese Democracy groups has held a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials to press for the Winter Olympic Games to be moved over alleged violations of human rights.

China has claimed that its Xinjiang’s internment camps are “vocational education centres”, maintaining that its policies in regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet are for national security reasons and to counter extremism.

In the UK the conservative politician and former Tory party leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, is one of several British politicians calling for a boycott of the Games.

Sir Iain says the UK should take a “strong position” including considering a boycott of the Games over alleged human rights abuse.

He is among the co-chairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, with politicians from 16 countries and two representatives from the European Parliament.

The group aims to reform how democratic countries approach China, with activities centred on safeguarding international rules-based order, upholding human rights, promoting trade fairness, strengthening security and protecting national integrity.

The former Conservative Party leader has accused China of being “dictatorial, aggressive and intolerant”.

The UK government has not committed itself one way or the other.

“Generally speaking, my instinct is to separate sport from diplomacy and politics but there comes a point where that may not be possible,” said the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last year to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

A British boycott would likely consist of politicians and dignitaries not attending, rather than the Olympic team.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that a decision had not yet been made over whether politicians or members of the Royal Family will attend the Games.

In the meantime events to mark one year to go get underway today and we will be updating you the activities on PlanetSKI later on Thursday.

The XXIV Winter Games are scheduled to take place February 4th – 20th 2022.

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