There seem to be mixed reviews on whether the Tokyo Olympics were successful. There were, of course, no friends, family or fans in the stands due to the ongoing pandemic. To be fair there were some great Olympic memories that television viewers got to witness, and there was some ambivalence by Japan’s citizens who believed the games were too risky and expensive. Nonetheless, there is little evidence of it being a super-spreader event.
The Chinese people in Beijing and beyond will have no such compunction to speak their mind. Nonetheless, China’s government will still have to address such issues as the mass detention of Uyghurs Muslims and other ethnic minorities as well as the ongoing crackdown in Hong Kong and Taiwan. But concerns and complaints by Chinese citizens will not be part of the run-up to the games. Conversely, foreign journalists critical of the regime may be denied entry or targeted – there are reports of state-backed groups being hostile towards journalists with some threats of physical harm.
What will be a part of the games is another bubble (technically three of them). China has always been good about corralling athletes, so they seem eminently qualified to keep a tight rein on the 3,000 athletes expected to compete. The games will be spread out over three clusters:
- Beijing: Opening and closing ceremonies as well as indoor ice events.
- Yangqing: Skiing and sliding events.
- Zhangjiakou: Other snow events like ski jumping.
There will be 109 medal events at the 2022 Olympics. This will include 15 disciplines: Biathlon, bobsled (including skeleton), curling, ice hockey, luge, skating (including figure, speed and short track), and skiing (including alpine, cross-country, freestyle, Nordic combined, ski jumping and snowboard).
Will it be delayed?
While Tokyo was ultimately delayed for a year, Beijing probably will not face a similar fate unless the nature of the pandemic radically changes. Tokyo and other large professional sporting events prove that competition can happen. It likely will move forward on time in China, but it remains to be seen whether fans will be able to attend or at what sort of capacity.