Winter Olympics: Opening Ceremony Kicks Off in Beijing After Months of Tension

BEIJING—After months of uncertainty and pressure, China kicked off a person of the most abnormal Olympic Online games in background with an opening-ceremony spectacle punctuated by what appeared to be a defiant jab at the U.S. and its allies that have challenged the country’s human-rights report.

Beijing on Friday officially became the very first metropolis to host each the Summer and Wintertime Game titles, staging a display of exquisite pageantry in freezing temperatures that was far more subdued than the steamy extravaganza in 2008 held in the very same stadium, recognised colloquially as the Bird’s Nest.

Online games organizers introduced back again Zhang Yimou, the famed Chinese director who headed the ceremony 14 yrs ago, for an encore that showcased thousands of performers dancing in unison, synchronized skating and a blaze of fireworks.

The Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics

Pics from the formal kickoff to the Winter Video games

The opening ceremony of the Winter season Olympics at China’s National Stadium in Beijing on Friday.


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In an unpredicted transfer, China chosen Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a 20-calendar year-previous feminine cross-place skier from its northwestern region of Xinjiang, as one particular of the two athletes to light the Olympic flame. Her range was a reminder of the geopolitical overhang encompassing the Game titles.

Officers from countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan and the U.K. declared a diplomatic boycott of these Wintertime Olympics, citing what they claimed have been human-correct abuses in China, which includes a yearslong marketing campaign of forcible assimilation that has included the detention of as quite a few as just one million mostly Muslim minorities in internment camps in Xinjiang.

The U.S. federal government and some allies have labeled Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang a type of genocide. China rejects the allegations, describing the camps in unique as vocational coaching facilities to increase livelihoods and fight religious extremism and terrorism.

The selection of Ms. Yilamujiang, a relatively not known athlete, seemed intentional, stated Xu Guoqi, a College of Hong Kong professor who research China’s record with the Olympics. “By selecting a Uyghur, they just told the planet, ‘What you men explained is not legitimate.’ ”

Performers danced less than the Olympic rings during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.


ben stansall/Agence France-Presse/Getty Pictures

Human-rights activists stated Ms. Yilamujiang’s range as the torch lighter was galling. “It’s feeding into the Chinese propaganda,” said

Zumretay Arkin,

plan and advocacy supervisor for an activist group termed World Uyghur Congress. “Using Uyghurs to move this concept to the intercontinental community—it is offensive.” The arranging committee for the Beijing Olympics claimed there is a stringent collection criteria for torch bearers, and people chosen have demonstrated superb achievements in their discipline.

The tensions looming about these Online games had been apparent at a Thursday information convention with International Olympic Committee President

Thomas Bach,

who spent little time conversing about athletic level of competition. Journalists peppered him with questions about China’s human-legal rights record, the capacity of athletes to communicate freely and Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star and former Olympian who disappeared from general public perspective for weeks just after a sexual-assault allegation in opposition to a previous substantial-ranking Chinese politician appeared on her social-media account.

The Beijing Olympics are established to be the first Winter Games to count entirely on artificial snow. WSJ examines the logistics of snow-making and what it may well necessarily mean for long run host towns. Image: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Ms. Peng has since re-emerged in public, including in a video call with Mr. Bach. Critics which includes the Women’s Tennis Affiliation say they are skeptical of her very well-becoming and skill to communicate freely. Mr. Bach said Thursday that he prepared to satisfy Ms. Peng for the duration of the Olympics.

For the duration of his speech at Friday’s opening ceremony, Mr. Bach brought up new geopolitical tensions and divisions, urging athletes and governments to put apart their variations for thriving Online games. “We exhibit the environment, sure, it is feasible to be intense rivals, but at the similar time living peacefully and respectfully alongside one another,” he said.

Mr. Bach also talked about the Covid-19 pandemic, whose initially epicenter was 700 miles from Beijing in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan.

Although the Chinese government has stymied worldwide endeavours to look into the pandemic origins, it has also remained alone among the big nations around the world to pursue a “zero-Covid” technique. Citing this coverage, it has crafted a “closed loop” for these Olympics that confine athletes and other participants to sporting venues and their lodging. No tickets are being bought to the general public, and the confined quantity of spectators invited to the opening ceremony intended pockets of empty seats.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the opening ceremony for the Games.


alexei druzhinin/kremlin pool/sp/Shutterstock

Just as noteworthy were being the planet leaders who did go to. Chinese President

Xi Jinping

built his 1st main in-human being look on a global stage since the coronavirus outbreak in January 2020. Becoming a member of him was Russian President

Vladimir Putin,

who is locked in a standoff with Western leaders about the Russian forces amassed on its border with Ukraine. Various leaders of countries in Central Asia and the Center East were also on the guest record.

The formal slogan of the Beijing Video games is “Together for the Shared Potential.” All through one act, a group of pink-clad skaters danced to the John Lennon song “Imagine.”

To lots of Chinese seeing at home, the ceremony motivated a feeling of countrywide satisfaction.

“I can truly feel that satisfaction, with our homeland chopping a great determine in the planet,” mentioned Peter Zhong, a 19-yr-previous competitive golfer who watched the ceremony from household in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. He experienced needed to turn into a volunteer inside of the Olympic bubble, but he aborted the system for wellbeing reasons.

His favourite component was the parade of athletes from all over the planet. “It isn’t just a personalized honor, but a country’s honor,” Mr. Zhong explained.

What to Know About the Beijing Winter season Olympics

Write to Stu Woo at [email protected] and Liza Lin at [email protected]

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