The 2022 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIV Olympic Winter Games is scheduled to take place from 4 to 20 February 2022, in Beijing and towns in the neighbouring Hebei province in the People’s republic of China. Beijing was elected as the host city on July 2015 at the 128th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It will also be the first Winter Olympics to be held in China, the second overall Olympics to be held in China (after Beijing 2008).
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this ill also mark the first time since 1992 where the Winter and Summer Olympics were held less than six months apart from each other. The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to include a record 109 events over 15 disciplines in seven sports.
However, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is not without its controversies. Some of the issues include costs, environmental impact and the Covid-19 pandemic. Critics are quick to point out that the proposed outdoor venue sites do not have reliable snowfall in winter, which means. That snow may need to be transported to the venue. This will incur high cost and it comes with uncertain environmental consequences.
The environmental impact of the hosting the games near Beijing has also been questioned. Some of the proposed venues will be adjacent to the Beijing Songshan National Nature Reserve and part of the same mountain system; the environmental impact on the nature reserve of construction, as well as artificially covering parts of the mountain with snow, is uncertain. The Government of China has responded to these concerns by expanding the nature reserve by 31 percent of its original size.
There is also the issue of hosting the Games during the pandemic. It would seem like this would not pose much of a problem as people has become accustomed to life without many Covid restrictions, and the authorities stamping out each outbreak of the virus as it came. However, all that went out the window when the highly contagious Delta variant made its way into China. According to BBC, officials have been studying how Tokyo managed the Covid-19 risk for athletes and the decision there to not have crowds. Nevertheless, instead of having an empty stadium, the officials are expecting full stands of spectators, albeit the organising committee and relevant authorities are not releasing any plans until September.
“That’s the current discussion. The organising committee and relevant authorities are not releasing any of these plans until September, so yeah there will definitely be some sort of a bubble involving the athletes and there will be discussion as to who’s vaccinated and who’s not and how those flows work. But, from a winter sports perspective, they tested all of these protocols in Europe last year,” a source told BBC.
There are also calls to boycott the Olympic Games hosted by the People’s Republic of China for reasons such as the political structure, social circumstances and the violations of human rights. In a July 30, 2020 letter, the World Uyghur Congress urged the IOC to reconsider holding the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because of the Uyghur genocide. In September 2020, United States Senator Rick Scott spoke with IOC Vice President Anita DeFrantz about reconsidering the IOC’s decision to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. In October 2020, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested the United Kingdom may boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics. In November 2020, Australian Senators Jacqui Lambie and Rex Patrick officially proposed a boycott although their proposal was later voted down. In April 2021, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that U.S. government officials boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics “if the Chinese government’s crackdown on religious freedom continues.”
To these, the Chinese state-run outlet Global Times warned that China would “seriously sanction any country that follows a boycott”. In March 2021, Chinese spokesperson Guo Weimin stated that any attempt to boycott the Olympics would be doomed to fail. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also told EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell that they should attend the games to “enhance exchanges on winter sport,” and to “foster new highlights” in bilateral cooperation.