This year’s Winter Olympics, hosted in Beijing, look a little different to usual. The stadiums are empty and officiators are in hazmat suits, however this doesn’t stop millions from tuning in from the comfort of their own warm homes.
The sports performed at these Olympics may seem a bit more niche to some, with most of us never attempting a skeleton in our lives, but this is what makes its escapist appeal even more tempting. It seems that becoming invested in a sport we know virtually nothing about is a great pass-time and can act as a gentle reminder of what can be achieved by people from all walks of life. There are much fewer sports than the abundance of ones competed during the summer counterpart, but this also makes the Winter Olympics so easy to become invested in. After watching a couple of rounds of curling with little to no clue what the aim of the broom is, I’m sure I’m not alone when I start telling the professionals through my television screen how it actually should be done.
For a country that seems to practically shut down at the slightest inch of snow, I’m always surprised at the number of talented athletes we have representing the United Kingdom in a wide variety of events. While we may not be as successful on the medal front as we seem to often be in the Summer Olympics, the team of 50 athletes who have travelled to Beijing this year are sure to do us proud.
However, on the more serious side, a lot of the current tournament seems politically driven, with the situation in China regarding the persecution of the Uyghurs being a global cause for concern. While the Biden administration and other governments around the world have commented on such a “genocide”, Dinigeer Yilamujiang, aged only 20, lit the Olympic cauldron as a proud Uyghur Muslim.
The Olympics are never free of political discourse, and this year the Russian Olympic committee seem to be causing a stir. The15-year-old skating star, Kamila Valievathe, made history by becoming the first-ever woman to land a quadruple jump.She then failed a drug test. She has been allowed to continue competing even after banned muscle enhancers were found in her system, just without any hopes of a medal ceremony.
This unsurprisingly has become a heated debate among nations over the fairness of the decision, but nevertheless, the games go on. Politics aside, the enjoyment to be had out of watching graceful skaters spinning and jumping around the ice with effortlessness never seems to cease.
Luckily for us, the fun just keeps ongoing, with the Winter Paralympics being held just under two weeks after the conclusion of the Olympics. The opening ceremony airs on March 4th and the events continue for just over a week, scheduled to conclude on March 13th. This game also marks a historic moment for disability inclusion, as Channel 4 who are covering the games are doing so with an all-disabled presenting team, a global first for any broadcaster covering a world-class sporting event. Paralympics GB champions Lauren Steadman and Ellie Robinson are set to join the on-screen presenting team led by Ade Adepitan, Arthur Williams, Billy Monger and Sean Rose, showing over 80 hours of coverage and presenting live from Beijing.
So, as we slowly begin to say goodbye to winter for another year, I know I for one will be sticking the TV on every now and again, hoping to catch a glimpse of a sport I know I could probably never be very good at.