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Amid pandemic and protest, Olympics return to a changed China

Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, and some venues from 2008 will be re-used, including the Bird's Nest stadium, where the opening ceremony will again be overseen by famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou.

January 28, 2022 / 05:58 AM IST
Visual of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony which took place on July 23, 2021 without spectators (Image: AP)

Visual of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony which took place on July 23, 2021 without spectators (Image: AP)

The Beijing Winter Olympics kick off in a week, putting sports at centre-stage following preparations that have been clouded by diplomatic boycotts and the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced the Games into a tightly sealed bubble.

Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, and some venues from 2008 will be re-used, including the Bird's Nest stadium, where the opening ceremony will again be overseen by famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou.

Almost everything else is different.

Where the 2008 Summer Games dazzled in what was a rising China's arrival on the world stage, the Winter Olympics will be staged by a country that has grown far wealthier, more powerful and, under President Xi Jinping, more authoritarian and increasingly at odds with the West.