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2022 Beijing Winter Olympics: answers to some big questions

When are the
Beijing Olympics?

The opening
ceremony is scheduled for Feb 4, a Friday, though some preliminary events will
be held in the days before. The closing ceremony is Feb 20, a Sunday. In all,
there will be 19 days of competition across 15 sports.

This year’s
Paralympics, also based in Beijing, are scheduled for March 4-13.

Is there any
chance the Games could be delayed, or even canceled, because of the pandemic?

Anything is
possible, but the International Olympic Committee and Olympic organisers in
Beijing have gone out of their way to emphasise that the Games will go on as
planned. Asked in early December whether he could envision a situation in which
the Games had to be postponed, Juan Antonio Samaranch, a top Olympic official,
was blunt. “The answer is no,” he said. “In a COVID world, you have to be
flexible, and you have to be able to adapt rapidly to changing conditions. We
have that in Beijing.”

How will
they deal with the coronavirus?

The
protocols will be similar to those at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, but more
stringent. Organizers are creating what they’re calling a “closed-loop system”
— also known as a bubble — in which thousands of athletes, coaches, team
officials, Olympic staff members, contractors, volunteers and journalists will
be confined for the duration of the Games. The bubble will include competition
sites, hotels and other lodging for athletes, media facilities and a
transportation network. No one else goes in; no one comes out.

Everybody at
the Olympics will be required to be vaccinated. (Medical exemptions are
available, but anyone who gets one will have to quarantine for an impractical
21 days before competing.) And once there, everyone will be tested every day.

Weren’t the
Summer Olympics held in Beijing in 2008? Why is China hosting another Games?

A lot of
countries, initially, had raised their hands to host the 2022 Games. But over
time, one by one, they dropped out — countries like Norway, Sweden, Poland,
Ukraine, Switzerland, Germany — in many cases citing the high cost of hosting
the Olympics and a lack of popular support back home.

Eventually,
China and Kazakhstan were the only two bidders left. Beijing won by four votes.
The host selection process was deemed such a disaster that the IOC went on to
scrap it. Host cities are now selected through a closed-door process.

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Will any
countries boycott the Games?

China’s
record on human rights, including the abuse of Uyghur Muslims in the country’s
Xinjiang region and the suppression of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, has
led activists around the world to call for countries and sponsors to boycott
the Beijing Games.

The calls
intensified in November with the disappearance from public life of Peng Shuai,
a Chinese tennis player and three-time Olympian, after she accused a former top
government official of sexual assault.

But the
possibility that any country boycotts the Beijing Olympics outright — that is,
refuses to send its athletes to compete — feels remote. Instead, several
countries, including the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada, have
announced a “diplomatic boycott” of the Games, meaning their government
officials will not attend any ceremonies or events.

“We will not
be contributing to the fanfare of the Games,” Jen Psaki, the White House press
secretary, said about the decision.

What will
happen if an athlete stages a protest — about human rights or anything else —
during the Olympics?

“That is a
hypothetical question,” an IOC spokesperson, Mark Adams, said when asked that
question in early December, pointing out that athletes could express personal
views in interviews during the Games and on social media.

The IOC
loosened its rules around protests and political displays before the Tokyo
Olympics last summer, allowing athletes to make symbolic gestures — raising a
fist or taking a knee, for example — in the arenas before their competitions.
(Protesting during medal ceremonies is still not allowed.)

But it
remains to be seen what would happen if an athlete were to criticize, say, the
Chinese government explicitly during the Games. “I think we have to wait for
concrete examples,” Adams said.

Will fans be
allowed to attend the events?

Most likely
yes, but only in a limited capacity. Although fans were barred from venues in
Tokyo last summer, organizers are hoping to allow at least some spectators from
China to attend events in Beijing. Chinese officials have laid out strict rules
to try to limit the spread of the virus, among them that spectators will be
allowed to clap but not shout.

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Overseas
spectators will not be allowed to enter the country.

Will NHL
players be there?

No. That’s a
reversal of plans announced in September that would have allowed the stars to
head to Beijing while the league shut down for three weeks.

But with
concerns rising about the omicron variant of the coronavirus, the league and
its players union pulled out of the Games and may use the time in February to
make up postponed NHL games.

The Olympic
men’s hockey tournament will now most likely feature minor leaguers and those
who play in other organisations.

How can I
watch the Olympics?

As has been
true for every Olympics this century, NBC will broadcast the Games in the
United States. Coverage can also be found on various cable channels owned by
the company, on NBCOlympics.com and on Peacock, the company’s streaming
service.

Eurosport
will carry the Games in Europe, often in partnership with national broadcasters
like the BBC. TSN, RDS and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. will show the Games
in Canada, and Seven Network in Australia.

What is the
time difference with Beijing?

Beijing is
13 hours ahead of Eastern time.

That means
many big events will be at awkward times for Americans: Women’s figure skating
on Feb. 17 ends about 9 am in New York and 6 am in Los Angeles, and the men’s
hockey final on Feb. 20 in Beijing begins after 11 p.m. on Feb. 19 in New York.

The opening
ceremony will most likely take place in prime time in Beijing, which is the
morning in the United States.

Are there any
new events?

There are
seven additions to the program for the 2022 Olympics. The most compelling among
them could be the monobob, a women’s solo bobsledding event.

These are
the other events making their debut at the Games:

— Freestyle
skiing: Mixed team aerials

— Freestyle
skiing: Men’s big air

— Freestyle
skiing: Women’s big air


Short-track speedskating: Mixed team relay

— Ski
jumping: Mixed team event


Snowboarding: Mixed team snowboard cross.

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What are all
the sports in the Winter Olympics?

There are
fewer disciplines than in the Summer Olympics. The Winter Games include Alpine
skiing, biathlon, bobsled, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating,
freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, skeleton, ski jumping,
snowboarding and speedskating.

How much is
an Olympic medal worth?

There is no
prize money from the International Olympic Committee for winners. But many
national federations give payments to athletes for winning medals.

Some of the
bonuses are substantial: Singapore’s $1 million in local currency (roughly
$740,000 in the United States) for a gold medal is the largest known reward.
Some are more modest: A US medalist receives $37,500 for gold, $22,500 for
silver and $15,000 for bronze. Other bonuses are nonexistent, such as those for
medalists from Britain, New Zealand and Norway.

Many
athletes have later sold their medals to collectors, some citing financial
hardships, others seeking to raise money for charity. The prices of old medals
at auction vary quite a bit.

Who are the
Beijing 2022 mascots?

After a
global call for ideas, which attracted more than 5,800 submissions, the
organizers of the Games unveiled Bing Dwen Dwen, a cuddly panda who wears a
suit made of ice. Shuey Rhon Rhon, an anthropomorphic lantern, is the Beijing
Paralympics mascot.

What do the
Olympic rings mean?

The five
rings, of blue, yellow, black, green and red, date to 1912 and were designed by
the modern Games’ founder, Pierre de Coubertin. The colors were chosen so that
every flag in the world would have at least one matching color.

The reason
there are five rings is murky: They may represent five continents, or the five
Olympic Games that had been staged at the time they were designed. There is no
particular meaning for any individual ring.

Where will
the next Olympics take place?

The next
Summer Olympics will be in Paris in 2024. The 2026 Winter Games will take place
in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. The Summer Games will then head to Los
Angeles in 2028 and Brisbane, Australia, in 2032. The host of the 2030 Winter
Games will be selected in 2023.

© 2022 The
New York Times Company

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