Editor’s note: China has overcome many odds to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Two experts and a China Daily writer analyze China’s achievements in sports, and propose measures it needs to take to further promote sports, especially winter sports, in the country.
The opening ceremony of an Olympic Games, be it the Summer or Winter Games, is normally an extraordinary, intricately choreographed extravaganza, which attracts hundreds of millions of viewers on television across the world. It is also a spectacle, a majestic show, through which the host nation showcases its culture, history, traditions, and socioeconomic achievements.
The message of the opening ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games was peace, which was conveyed through the flying apsaras, the moving types, the Chinese paper scroll, the ancient Chinese drums, the Olympic rings and the colorful fireworks.
But the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games on the evening of Feb 4 was different, yet splendid. The audiences were treated to a pared down ceremony, without the large-scale artistic performances that marked the 2008 opening ceremony, but it was no less symbolic－symbolic of a shared future for humankind.
In a bid to hold a simple, safe and yet spectacular Winter Games, the opening ceremony on Friday was not lengthy or marked with a large-scale performance. Even the number of performers－about 15,000 in 2008－was down to 3,000, and the duration of the ceremony was reduced to about 100 minutes because of the cold weather and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Olympic cauldron at the snowflake-themed ceremony was small, but the flames conveyed significant messages of greener Olympic Games.
The use of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine vision, 5G and cloud broadcasting added to the novelty of the opening ceremony. The performances, carrying forward the theme of global peace and shared future for humankind, focused on environmental protection, and human health and physical fitness, highlighting the importance of sports in instilling new confidence in the international community to contain the pandemic.
Through Friday’s opening ceremony, people could clearly see China’s pursuit of building a peaceful world, its reflection of the new Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger－Together” and the Beijing Winter Games’ motto of “Together for a Shared Future”.
By reducing the duration of the opening ceremony, China has adhered to the concept of “Green, Inclusive, Open and Clean” Beijing Winter Olympics. That the reduced duration also lowered the cost was an added bonus.
To reduce the carbon footprint of the Winter Games, all the Olympic venues are being run on clean energy－and after the Games, they will be open for the public all year round and will stage high-level winter sports events. Also, during the preparations for the Games, all the work was done in an environmentally friendly manner. For example, about 70 percent of the materials used in the Games have been obtained through lease, including new sporting equipment, furniture in the Olympic village, technical devices, even bed sheets and quilt covers.
In line with Beijing 2022’s concept of hosting a green Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, the medal podiums are made of recyclable and environmentally friendly materials. Hand-knitted bouquets, rather than real flowers, will be presented to the winners. The cashmere bouquets, in fact, will not only look like the real bouquets even after years but also honor the concept of sustainability.
More important, thrift, a traditional Chinese virtue, can help build a healthy social environment for China to realize its targets of peaking carbon emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. All this make the 2022 Winter Games an important Olympics to focus on achieving carbon neutrality.
For China, holding a simple, safe and yet spectacular opening ceremony is not just a slogan, it’s a philosophy, a way of life in the true sense of term.