fredag 4. februar 2022

An Olympics like no other: Can sports overcome the controversy of Beijing 2022?

The ice rinks have been smoothed out, the brown mountain slopes draped with artificial snow. The Olympic flame is on its final journey to the heart of Beijing, ready to light up the night sky. Defying a raging pandemic and months of international controversy, the 2022 Winter Olympics will officially open as scheduled in the Chinese capital tonight.

Sealed off from its host city by a labyrinth of high fences, thermal gates and facial-recognition cameras, this is an Olympics like no other. Politics, protests and Covid protocols have become an unavoidable part of the build-up to these Games, and if anything, events taking place outside the sporting arena during the next two weeks will receive as much attention as actions on the ice and snow.

How China responds will be a major test for the country's leader Xi Jinping, who is gearing up for an unprecedented third term in power this fall. "The world is turning its eyes to China, and China is ready," Xi said Thursday ahead of the opening ceremony.