Iliana Woloch ‘24, News Editor
Though the postponed Summer Olympic games took place only this past summer, the time for the Winter Olympics has come once again. On Feb. 4, the opening ceremony will be held in Beijing, and billions of people have an opportunity to root on their favorite olympians. Similar to past years, this year’s events are centered around seven different sports including the following: figure skating, snowboarding, and skiing.
Among the long list of American athletes to root for this February, is Alysa Liu. The 16-year-old figure skater made her first international appearance at the 2021 Cranberry Cup where she won first place. She also placed first in the 2021 Nebelhorn Trophy and has hopes of doing the same in Beijing.
Another promising American competitor, 27-year-old Alex Ferreira, hopes to take home the gold in the free-ski halfpipe event. Ferreira won silver in the 2018 Winter Olympics and was able to work her way up to gold in the 2019 and 2020 X Games.
These competitors, and many other athletes, will vie for top placements in the many competitions to come—similar to the thousands of athletes before them. Historically, the games have served as a way to bring the countries of the world together. Additionally, it provides opportunities for representatives to meet with one another and for friendships to be formed.
However, while families all over the world tune in to the games, the absence of several of these national representatives will be felt in the stands. Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Kosovo, and the US have all declared diplomatic boycotts for the 2022 Olympics. This means that while the country’s athletes will travel to Beijing, no government officials or representatives will accompany them. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “[The boycott was against] the [People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.)]’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang.” Public protests for a boycott at the 2022 Olympics were first heard months before the games in response to accusations that China has committed crimes against humainty in the region of Xinjiang against mostly Muslim ethnic groups. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said, “We have been very clear over the past many years of our deep concerns around human rights violations.”
In response, the Chinese government accused countries taking part in the boycott of manipulating the Olympics with matters of politics, counteracting the game’s purpose: to bring the countries of the world together. Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said, “[The boycott] seriously violates the principle of political neutrality of sports established by the Olympic Charter and runs counter to the Olympic motto ‘more united’.” Lijian also warned there would be consequences for breaking such rules; however, no specifics were mentioned.
With the 2022 Winter Olympics quickly approaching, millions will tune in from around the world to cheer on their favorites as well as ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the skillful techniques the professionals display. Though this year’s games will surely not be without differences in comparison to previous years, this international event will, nonetheless, serve to dazzle and inspire people of all walks of life.