Awaiting the Winter Games

The Olympic flame for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games is on display in Beijing's Olympic Tower on Oct 20, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Nearly 3,000 years have elapsed since the idea of Olympic Games was born in ancient Greece.

As represented by the later-introduced Olympic symbol of five interlocking rings representing the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia, the spirit of the Olympics has since percolated across the globe — becoming a strong unifying factor in our collective human experience.

Espousing the values of excellence, friendship and respect, the Olympic Games have become a formidable platform for such things as intercultural exchanges, talent cultivation and education.

Sports events have worked to bridge historical, cultural and even ideological divides, bringing people together and creating amity among nations

It is for these reasons that billions of people across the world eagerly await the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Years of intense preparations by China have crested, with all of the sporting venues, Olympic Village and the media center readied months ahead of the Feb 4 opening of the Games.

For the first time in the history of the Olympics, the Games will be powered by green energy. This is a major effort to integrate sports with ecological conservation, a smart climate action aimed at reducing emissions while setting a precedent for other economies.

Staging the Games as scheduled against the backdrop of a global health crisis is no small feat. To avoid the pitfalls of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, which had been postponed until last year and during which more than 500 COVID-19 cases were associated with the Games, Beijing has established an integrated plan to ensure that participants at the Olympics are well-protected against COVID-19.

Besides routine epidemic management practices like regular screening, China is also offering vaccines to participants. A closed-loop approach will eliminate interaction between the athletes and the general public, and this will also act as a safeguard against community transmissions of COVID-19.

Safety is an important consideration for many countries sending athletes to the Games. Hence, China’s enviable track record in containing the spread of COVID makes it one of the most qualified nations to host the Games at this time.

China’s unyielding efforts to stage a safe, clean and green event is proving crucial to the success of the Games. The International Olympic Committee has endorsed the level of preparedness by China, affirming its confidence.

The rising enthusiasm for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics has doused splinter voices keen to leverage geopolitics or ideology to stoke indifference and a possible boycott of the Games. Sports events have worked to bridge historical, cultural and even ideological divides, bringing people together and creating amity among nations. In the history of the modern Olympics, it was only in 1916, 1940 and 1944 that the Games, because of the world wars, did not take place.

China has emerged as a strong sporting nation, given its track record in recent international sporting events. By hosting the Olympics again, Beijing is demonstrating its resolve for international cooperation and putting forward some of the best infrastructure aimed at strengthening the spirit and outcome of the Games.

Some teams from around the world are already in China for trial matches. This not only promotes the exchange of sports knowledge but also helps the participants acclimate to the competition environment.

The Beijing Games will also be an important event to further solidify Sino-African cultural exchanges. China has been an important partner in the modernization of Africa’s sporting infrastructure. The opening of Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar, Tanzania, in 1970 marked the first stadium to be built by China on the continent. 

In Kenya, Moi International Sports Centre-Kasarani was also built by China, while Chinese enterprises have supported refurbishment of additional facilities in Kenya such as Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi and Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret.

Across Africa, China has so far funded and built more than 50 sports facilities, and this support has significantly contributed to the cultivation and development of sporting talent in Africa.

The writer is a scholar of international relations with a focus on China-Africa ties. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.