What to expect in Beijing 2022
Believe it or not, the Winter Olympic Games are just around the corner: the Opening Ceremony kicks off on February 4, 2022 in Beijing, making the Chinese capital the first city to host both the Winter and Summer Olympics, which was last held in 2008.
Another first? Due to the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics as a result of the pandemic, this will mark the first time since 1992 in which the Games were held less than six months apart from each other.
It will cost an estimated $3 billion dollars to hold the 2022 Games, a fraction of the record-setting $44 billion it cost China for the 2008 Summer Olympics. At the time, it was the most expensive Olympic event in history — though the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics crushed that record. And with that, preparations for the Games are well underway. Organizers announced in August that all venues and facilities were close to complete, including skating rinks, snowboard courses, and luge tracks.
Some facilities are brand new, but you may recognize some from the 2008 Games: The iconic aquatics centre known as the Water Cube will host curling, and the 91,000-capacity Bird’s Nest stadium will hold the opening and closing ceremonies. Outdoor skiing events will be held in two cities northwest of the capital, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, and can be accessed in under an hour with a new high-speed railway.
However, holding the Olympic Games during a pandemic is no easy feat. In the months leading up to the Summer Games in Tokyo, COVID protocols were ever-changing. The International Olympic Committee issued three versions of their Tokyo Playbooks, which outlined a game plan to ensure all Olympic and Paralympic Games participants were safe and healthy. So what should we expect for Beijing 2022? More of the same, if not stricter protocols.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge with two Olympics pretty much back-to-back,” says Dr. Christina Atkinson, chief medical officer of CSCA, team physician of Women’s Ice Hockey, and member of the National Sport Medicine Advisory Council. “In a way, now we're all warmed up.”
Dr. Atkinson has been prepping athletes for international championships all over the world, so at this point, following COVID rules and testing requirements are basically status quo. “This won’t be anything new,” she says. “We just have to take into account the protocols.” Leading up to Tokyo, athletes had to secure certificates to travel into Japan, as well as proof of negative test results. It will be similar this time around, though each country has their own rules and regulations.
“There won't be as much interaction between team members, countries, or social events, unfortunately,” she says. Although Tokyo may not have been the typical Games with fans cheering in the stands, Dr. Atkinson says there was still a great atmosphere despite restrictions in the Olympic Village.
Perhaps the official 2022 mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen, might bring some additional hope and optimism to the Games. The panda wears a full-body shell made out of ice, which resembles an astronaut suit — a tribute to new technologies and a future of infinite possibilities. In Mandarin Chinese, the official dialect of China, ‘Bing’ has several meanings though ‘ice’ is the most common. The word also symbolizes purity and strength, while ‘Dwen Dwen’ means robust and lively, and represents children.
Photo credit: Adam van Koeverden of Toronto leads the Canadian team into the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, Friday, August 8, 2008. (CP PHOTO)2008(HO-COC-Mike Ridewood)