Beijing will become the first city to stage both the Summer and Winter Olympics when the Games kick off in China in February. Many of the venues used to host the summer Games in 2008 will be reused, including the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
As was the case for the recent summer Olympics on Tokyo, these Games will take place under the shadow of the Covid pandemic, with restrictions in place, including a 21-day quarantine on arrival for those not fully vaccindated against coronavirus.
When are the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics?
The Winter Games will be held from February 4 to 20, 2022.
Where are they being held?
Some events will take place in the same Beijing venues that hosted the 2008 games, including the Bird’s Nest stadium, which will again hold the opening and closing ceremonies, and the Water Cube, which has been converted from a pool into a curling arena.
The alpine skiing and sliding events – bobsleigh, luge and skeleton – will take place at Yanqing, which is within the Beijing municipality on the mountainous northwestern outskirts near a section of the Great Wall.
Zhangjiakou, northwest of Beijing in Hebei province, will host cross-country skiing, ski jumping, biathlon, snowboarding and freestyle skiing. Zhangjiakou is nearly 200 km from central Beijing and is connected by a high-speed rail that takes about an hour.
Latest news on the Beijing Olympics
China says the omicron variant of the coronavirus is a concern for organisers of the Beijing Winter Olympics but it remains confident the Games will be held as scheduled in February.
The new variant is the latest challenge facing the Games, which have taken criticism over the lack of natural snow in the Chinese capital, the country’s human rights record, and tennis star Peng Shuai’s accusations of sexual assault against a former top leader of the ruling Communist Party.
At a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said omicron would “certainly bring some challenges in terms of prevention and control.”
“I’m fully confident that the Winter Olympics will be held as scheduled, smoothly and successfully,” Zhao said, citing China’s experience in largely controlling widespread infections since the pandemic began in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.
China maintains some of the world’s strictest anti-virus travel restrictions and has said it will not allow overseas spectators at the Games. Athletes, staff and journalists will be confined to bubbles for the duration of the competition, which will take place at three far-flung locations in downtown Beijing, its suburb of Yanqing, and neighboring Hebei province.
Along with logistical and health concerns, China faces the prospect that Western democracies will decline to send government officials to the Games in protest over China’s treatment of Turkic Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups, along with civil society and human rights activists.
Joe Biden announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China next year despite attempts to cool tensions between China and the US.
This has already been echoed by Australia as well as the UK after Boris Johnson said there will “effectively be a diplomatic boycott” with no ministers or officials attending.
Politicians, the WTA and leading tennis players have also raised concerns about the safety of three-time Olympian and former top-ranked doubles player Peng, who publicly accused Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee of coercing her into sex three years ago.
Will there be spectators?
Yes, but only if they live in mainland China. Like with the Tokyo Summer Games, overseas fans are banned due to the ongoing disruption brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Organisers have yet to say how tickets will be sold, or whether venues will operate at full seating capacity.
What Covid restrictions will there be?
All athletes and related personnel will be required to remain in a “closed loop” that includes the venues as well as dedicated transport facilities.
Athletes and others who are not fully vaccinated will be required to undergo 21 days of quarantine upon arrival in China, and all participants will be tested for Covid-19 daily.
Because most international flights into China have been cancelled, special flights from hub cities and exclusively for Games participants will be arranged.
During the Tokyo Games, which operated inside a more porous bubble, organisers reported 430 positive cases, although just 29 were among athletes and 25 among media.
What sports will there be?
Beijing will see the Olympic debut of seven new events including women’s monobob, mixed team relay events in short-track speedskating, and snowboard cross.
As was the case with the introduction of sports such as skateboarding to the summer programme, the aim is to attract a younger audience, as well as increasing female participation. The other new events are freestyle skiing big air (men and women), mixed team ski jumping and freestyle skiing aerials.
The core sports are biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing.