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Amid pandemic and protest, Olympics return to a changed China

The Beijing Winter Olympics kick off in a week, putting sports at centre-stage following preparations that have been clouded by diplomatic boycotts and the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced the Games into a tightly sealed bubble.
Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, and some venues from 2008 will be re-used, including the Bird’s Nest stadium, where the opening ceremony will again be overseen by famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
Almost everything else is different.
Where the 2008 Summer Games dazzled in what was a rising China’s arrival on the world stage, the Winter Olympics will be staged by a country that has grown far wealthier, more powerful and, under President Xi Jinping, more authoritarian and increasingly at odds with the West.
In the COVID-19 era, China has isolated itself with a zero-tolerance policy, cancelling nearly all international flights, meaning Olympic athletes and others must fly directly into a Games bubble on charters.
As in 2008, the Olympics have again cast a spotlight on China’s human rights record, which critics say has worsened since then, leading Washington to call Beijing’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims genocide and prompting a diplomatic boycott from the United States and other countries.
China rejects allegations of abuse and has repeatedly lashed out against the politicisation of the Games.
“The 2008 Olympics were a powerful source of soft power for China as it aspired toward global influence. In the past year, China’s reputation has dipped significantly in the western world,” said Rana Mitter, a professor of Chinese history and politics at Oxford University.
“The Chinese Communist Party will be hoping that the Winter Olympics 2022 can do something to reverse this position.”
However, the Games are set to kick off amid rising geopolitical tension, with troops mounted at the Ukraine border by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is expected to be in Beijing, as is U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.The post Amid pandemic and protest, Olympics return to a changed China first appeared on Ariana News.

Source: Ariana News

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