By Samarth Jani
The 2022 Winter Olympics are happening now, and while people are excited for the biggest sports competition in the world, there are many questions and controversies surrounding this year’s games such as COVID protocols and international politics. This year’s Winter Olympics are being held in Beijing, China and started Friday, February 4, 2022 and will close on February 20, 2022. As the games continue, students have been expressing their excitement.
Source from Carlie DiMartino
Eighth grader Carlie DiMartino and her family pose for a photo before skiing down a steep hill; DiMartino and her sister, junior Nicki DiMartino, prepare to make their way down a black diamond run.
The Winter Olympics include over 100 events, featuring classics like alpine skiing, biathlon (cross-country skiing and rifle shooting), curling, snowboarding, figure skating and bobsledding. This year, some new additions have been added: freestyle skiing, short-track speed skating and the monobob (a women’s solo bobsledding event). As the games continue, many students have questions concerning how China will host the Olympics while still keeping it safe.
“Seeing Olympic figure skaters motivates me to try to skate better. Watching them makes me anticipate if they are going to land a jump and appreciate how they can make ice skating look so effortless. The couple skaters always make me want to do couple skating because of how synchronized and graceful they dance together,” senior Eily Montenegro said.
Source from Eily Montenegro
Senior Eily Montenegro is practicing her figure skating skills at an outdoor ice rink.
To deal with COVID, protocols are similar, if not stricter, to those of the Tokyo Olympics last summer. The game’s organizers created a “closed-loop system” in which athletes, coaches, officials, journalists and staff will be confined in three bubbles roughly the size of a small city during the games; these bubbles will include hotels, transportation and competition sites. Plans to sell tickets have been canceled and security measures are being taken to ensure that fans do not get into the stadium. On top of that, everyone at the Olympics is required to be vaccinated and if someone has a medical exemption, they are required to be quarantined for 21 days before competing. China has also been doing heavy testing on all athletes and staff.
With all the excitement around the Olympics, there is a major controversy concerning certain countries’ politics and China’s ongoing humanitarian issues. The abuse and oppression of Uyghur Muslims, suppression of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the silencing of the disappearance of Chinese Olympian tennis player Peng Shuai, who accused a top Chinese official of sexual assault, has led many activists to push for sponsors to boycott the Olympics. Several countries such as the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada will still be sending their athletes to compete, but will be instilling a “diplomatic boycott” of the games. This means that government officials from these countries will not be attending the Olympics. China has made sure to keep strict control over protests and activism during the games by keeping many activists in China on house arrest. They will be regularly sending police to their houses, as well as ensuring that consequences such as prosecution will be enacted if athletes show signs of protest during the Olympics.
“The boycott is definitely justifiable and the control over activists is shocking, but I do think the issue is more complex and needs to be talked about more between officials from these countries,” junior Abigail Varghese said.