Beijing Olympics: the Winter Games opened in a China withdrawn



The Games of Discord are well and truly launched. China, at the center of controversy over human rights violations, has won its bet to maintain the organization of the event despite the pandemic. The Olympic flame was raised in the stadium on Friday, February 4, shortly after 10 p.m. local time, at the end of an opening ceremony which gave rise to the first strong image of these Beijing Winter Games: the President of IOC Thomas Bach, five meters away from Chinese leader Xi Jinping, both masked, overlooking the stands of Beijing’s Bird’s Nest. The values ​​of Olympism alongside the practices of an authoritarian country.

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“We are showing the world that it is possible to be formidable adversaries and at the same time to live together in peace and respect”, boasted, in a fragile balance, the president of the IOC, before recalling the warning of the UN to the States. On the eve of the event, the institution called on all countries to respect the “olympic truce”. “Give peace a chance”, summarizes Thomas Bach.

Opposite, the Chinese speech does not evoke, even in watermark, the political dissensions. Xi Jinping, a few hours earlier, nevertheless signed a joint declaration with Russia to denounce American influence in Europe and Asia. In the Bird’s Nest, the chairman of the Games organizing committee, Qi Cai, talks about the Games as a “magnificent experience in terms of integration and enrichment”. “They offer an opportunity to show the world our determination to meet the challenges to create a common future, for all humanity”, he rejoices.

No members of the French government

Surprisingly, these ” Welcome “ written in all languages ​​and projected by laser, even though the country has been closed for two years, and the foreign public has not been invited. The stadium welcomed spectators by invitation. As a response to the Tokyo Summer Games six months ago: the stadium in the Japanese capital was almost completely empty of the stadium. Another way of promoting the very strict strategy “zero Covid” of the regime.

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The team parade reminds us that politics is never far away. We could see, on the screens of the national channel CCTV, the Chinese leader applauding the passage of the athletes of the delegations of “Hong Kong, China” (where a draconian national security law was imposed by China in 2020), and “Taipei, China” (China considers Taiwan as one of its provinces).

While several leaders, including those of the United States and the United Kingdom, boycotted the event, heads of allied states like Vladimir Putin (Russia) and Abdel Fattah Al Sissi (Egypt) were present. On the other hand, there was no representative of the French government. Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu will not set foot on Chinese soil until February 12.

On the sports side, only 26 tricolor athletes out of the 88 in the delegation marched in the Olympic stadium, arranged in a V, led by standard bearers Tessa Worley (alpine skiing) and Kevin Rolland (freestyle skiing). The first medals of the 24and Olympiad will be in play on Saturday 5 February.

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