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

BEIJING—After months of uncertainty and stress, China kicked off 1 of the most unusual Olympic Online games in record 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 record.

Beijing on Friday formally became the very first city to host the two the Summer season and Winter season Online games, staging a display screen of beautiful pageantry in freezing temperatures that was more subdued than the steamy extravaganza in 2008 held in the same stadium, known colloquially as the Bird’s Nest.

Game titles organizers introduced back again Zhang Yimou, the famed Chinese director who headed the ceremony 14 years in the past, for an encore that showcased countless numbers of performers dancing in unison, synchronized skating and a blaze of fireworks.

The Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics

Photos from the official kickoff to the Winter Online games

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


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In an unforeseen move, China selected Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a 20-12 months-old female cross-region skier from its northwestern area of Xinjiang, as a person of the two athletes to light-weight the Olympic flame. Her variety was a reminder of the geopolitical overhang surrounding the Game titles.

Officers from nations together with the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan and the U.K. declared a diplomatic boycott of these Winter Olympics, citing what they reported were being human-suitable abuses in China, including a yearslong campaign of forcible assimilation that has incorporated the detention of as numerous as one million mostly Muslim minorities in internment camps in Xinjiang.

The U.S. government and some allies have labeled Beijing’s steps in Xinjiang a kind of genocide. China rejects the allegations, describing the camps in certain as vocational schooling facilities to improve livelihoods and battle spiritual extremism and terrorism.

The selection of Ms. Yilamujiang, a somewhat unidentified athlete, appeared intentional, explained Xu Guoqi, a University of Hong Kong professor who reports China’s heritage with the Olympics. “By choosing a Uyghur, they basically informed the planet, ‘What you men reported is not true.’ ”

Performers danced beneath the Olympic rings throughout the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.


ben stansall/Agence France-Presse/Getty Photographs

Human-rights activists mentioned Ms. Yilamujiang’s selection as the torch lighter was galling. “It’s feeding into the Chinese propaganda,” claimed

Zumretay Arkin,

software and advocacy supervisor for an activist team identified as Entire world Uyghur Congress. “Using Uyghurs to pass this information to the international community—it is offensive.” The arranging committee for the Beijing Olympics explained there is a stringent choice requirements for torch bearers, and individuals chosen have demonstrated fantastic achievements in their subject.

The tensions looming about these Games have been apparent at a Thursday news convention with Global Olympic Committee President

Thomas Bach,

who invested tiny time talking about athletic levels of competition. Journalists peppered him with questions about China’s human-legal rights document, the ability of athletes to communicate freely and Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star and previous Olympian who disappeared from general public see for months after a sexual-assault allegation towards a former large-position Chinese politician appeared on her social-media account.

The Beijing Olympics are set to be the initially Winter season Online games to count solely on artificial snow. WSJ examines the logistics of snow-making and what it may perhaps mean for long run host towns. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Ms. Peng has given that re-emerged in public, such as in a online video contact with Mr. Bach. Critics like the Women’s Tennis Affiliation say they are skeptical of her perfectly-being and ability to talk freely. Mr. Bach claimed Thursday that he planned to meet up with Ms. Peng through the Olympics.

Throughout his speech at Friday’s opening ceremony, Mr. Bach brought up the latest geopolitical tensions and divisions, urging athletes and governments to put aside their differences for effective Game titles. “We clearly show the environment, of course, it is feasible to be fierce rivals, but at the identical time living peacefully and respectfully collectively,” he reported.

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

Even though the Chinese authorities has stymied international attempts to look into the pandemic origins, it has also remained by itself between major international locations to pursue a “zero-Covid” system. Citing this policy, it has crafted a “closed loop” for these Olympics that confine athletes and other individuals to sporting venues and their lodging. No tickets are becoming offered to the common general public, and the minimal amount of spectators invited to the opening ceremony meant pockets of empty seats.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the opening ceremony for the Game titles.


alexei druzhinin/kremlin pool/sp/Shutterstock

Just as noteworthy were being the entire world leaders who did show up at. Chinese President

Xi Jinping

produced his to start with big in-individual overall look on a world-wide phase considering that the coronavirus outbreak in January 2020. Joining him was Russian President

Vladimir Putin,

who is locked in a standoff with Western leaders around the Russian forces amassed on its border with Ukraine. Several leaders of international locations in Central Asia and the Center East ended up also on the visitor list.

The official slogan of the Beijing Game titles is “Together for the Shared Long term.” In the course of a single act, a team of crimson-clad skaters danced to the John Lennon tune “Imagine.”

To several Chinese observing at dwelling, the ceremony motivated a perception of nationwide pleasure.

“I can really feel that pride, with our homeland reducing a wonderful figure in the globe,” reported Peter Zhong, a 19-12 months-old aggressive golfer who watched the ceremony from residence in the southern Chinese town of Shenzhen. He had needed to become a volunteer within the Olympic bubble, but he aborted the plan for overall health factors.

His favorite element was the parade of athletes from all over the environment. “It isn’t just a own honor, but a country’s honor,” Mr. Zhong stated.

What to Know About the Beijing Winter Olympics

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

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