Winter Olympics 2022 Opening Ceremony: How to Watch and Key Times For the Beijing Games

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Winter Olympics 2022 Opening Ceremony: How to Watch and Key Times For the Beijing Games
The opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games kicks

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Perhaps the most spectacular part of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics was the opening ceremony. World leaders including then-President George W. Bush joined 90,000 spectators inside the “Bird’s Nest” stadium and—along with an estimated more than one billion TV viewers—watched 2,008 drummers and thousands of other performers celebrate Chinese culture.

The opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games on Friday will be different. With the pandemic still raging, and China employing a “zero-Covid” policy, there will be a fraction of the spectators and performers.

And looming in the background are geopolitical tensions. The Biden administration won’t send any officials to the Winter Olympics, citing a campaign of forcible assimilation of mostly Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang region, which U.S. officials have said amounts to a form of genocide—a charge that Beijing denies.

Winter Olympics 2022 Opening Ceremony: How to Watch and Key Times For the Beijing Games

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When does the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony start?

The event begins on Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. in China, 12 p.m. in London, 7 a.m. in New York, and 4 a.m. in California.

How do I watch the opening ceremony?

Coverage in the U.S. will begin tonight on NBC and Peacock at 6:30 a.m. Eastern time. NBC and Peacock will then broadcast an adapted presentation of the opening ceremony again from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time, with a focus on Team USA athletes in addition to the pageantry.

What can we expect from the opening ceremony in Beijing?

The world gets another opening ceremony from Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who was also in charge of the 2008 edition. He has been relatively tight-lipped about the Feb. 4 ceremony.

He said humble performances would showcase ordinary people, according to a recent article in People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party. Instead of professional actors, ordinary people will take the stage to do things such as square dance during the ceremony’s warm-up act, the paper said. Such dancing is common among older people in public plazas or parks in China.

Compared with the 2008 opening ceremony, which stretched more than four hours, this week’s performance will run for about 100 minutes, in part because of the weather and the pandemic, the paper said. There will be about 3,000 performers, compared with 15,000 more than a decade ago.

Asked by state broadcaster China Central Television to describe the coming ceremony without revealing too many details, Mr. Zhang said: “Ethereal. Romantic. Modern. Technological.”

What happened in the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing?

The ceremony began with 2,008 drummers in the middle of the Bird’s Nest stadium and ended with Chinese former Olympic champion Li Ning soaring through the sky to light the torch atop the stadium. In between were dances and songs that celebrated Chinese culture and lots of fireworks.

Winter Olympics 2022 Opening Ceremony: How to Watch and Key Times For the Beijing Games

A light show at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium was seen during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

What traditionally happens at Olympic opening ceremonies?

There are performances that typically celebrate the host nation’s culture. The London 2012 Summer Olympics, for example, featured dancing nurses that paid homage to the country’s beloved National Health Service, while the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro delivered a heavy dose of samba. Following the performances is the parade of nations, in which athletes from participating countries march into the stadium behind their flag. The ceremony ends with the lighting of the Olympic torch, often by a dignitary of the host nation.

The previous opening ceremony took place only six months earlier since the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics were delayed a year because of the pandemic. In a mostly empty stadium closed to the general public, performers highlighted the struggles of the pandemic and tennis star Naomi Osaka lighted the flame.

Beijing organizers expect to welcome about 2,900 athletes from 91 national delegations.

But unlike in 2008, when President Bush attended the opening ceremony, the U.S. and several of its allies won’t send any official government representatives to the Games, citing China’s alleged human rights abuses.

Who will be attending the ceremony?

Chinese leader Xi Jinping will attend the ceremony, as will world leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Journalists will be present too. And while no Olympic tickets are being sold to the general public, organizers will invite some guests, so the stadium won’t be empty.

Who are the Team USA Flag Bearers for the Opening Ceremony?

Team USA revealed that Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor and curler John Shuster were to be the flag bearers at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. However, speed skater Brittany Bowe replaced Meyers Taylor after she tested positive for COVID-19.

 

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