Was the Beijing 2022 Olympics a Success or Failure?
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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have officially ended and at this point I have a simple question I would like to ask you….do you think these games were a success or a failure?
Heading into the games, there was a tremendous amount of concern. Would international athletes be safe traveling to China? Could China actually contain the virus and successfully host these Winter Games? Now that the Olympics is over, let’s look at some of the most memorable moments from these games and see if the 2022 Winter Olympics was indeed a success for China and the world.
Last summer Tokyo showed the world it was possible to successfully host an Olympic Games during the middle of a pandemic, but when it was Beijing’s turn to host…the stakes were much higher. The omicron variant had spread at alarming rates throughout the world and despite China’s best efforts to keep the virus out, there were several outbreaks in Beijing just weeks before the opening ceremony.
With enormous pressure to deliver these games to the world, the first point I would like to recognize is that China did an outstanding job of keeping all athletes safe throughout these Olympics. Let’s listen to Team USA Snowboarder Aaron Blunck as he shares his insights:
“As far as China, being here for Beijing 2022, they have honestly done a stellar job with the whole Covid protocol. I didn’t really know what to expect, being stateside you kinda heard some pretty bad media, and that is completely false. It’s actually been phenomenal. Everybody from staff to Covid testers to accommodation, it’s probably one of the better Olympics that we’ve been to.”
Fellow Team USA snowboarder Alex Ferreira added:
“I just think all the people and staff within the Olympic village are so genuine and kind. They are so happy. They are always waving their hands, so excited. It’s just refreshing and nice to see!”
Unfortunately, Covid protocols meant that all athletes were limited to staying within the Olympic bubble. They had no access to the city of Beijing and could only travel between the Olympic village and the competition venues. But this didn’t stop the athletes from having fun. Take a look at this video from Benjamin Alexander, who made history in Beijing becoming the first Alpine skier to represent Jamaica in the Olympics.
Jet-lagged in the Olympic village, Benjamin brought out his speaker and started playing some iconic music one evening with the local Chinese staff. These local Chinese most likely never heard reggae music before, they most likely never met a Jamaican citizen before, now they have a lasting memory and a positive view of Jamaica. This is why sending our athletes to compete in the Olympics is truly so important. Our athletes were able to experience China’s culture and also share some of our own culture with local Chinese.
One of the goals of hosting the Olympics in a country like China is to inspire a new generation of athletes. I’ve worked for over 15 years in the sports marketing industry and spent many years growing the game of golf in China. I know how important marquee international events are to “growing the game”.
Last week Bloomberg Opinion highlighted the Olympics were a “raging success” for China with nearly 600 million Chinese tuning in at some point to watch the games. The opening ceremony was China’s most watched broadcast in a decade, and even in North America the Women’s Gold Medal Hockey Game between the US and Canada averaged 3.54 million viewers on NBC making it the second-most watched hockey game in the U.S. since 2019.
China stated they hoped to expose winter sports to some 300 million people in China and these games could be the catalyst to China becoming a future powerhouse in the Winter Olympics. Team China won a historic 9 gold medals and their future looks bright with their two biggest stars Eileen Gu and Su Yiming capturing a total of 5 medals between them.
In the month before the 2022 opening ceremonies, Alibaba reported sales of winter sports gear surged 107%. One of those purchases came from a personal friend of mine, a fellow American who lives in Shanghai and was inspired by the Olympics and booked an 8-day vacation to explore some of the best snowboarding venues in China. Surprisingly it wasn’t near Beijing, but actually in the province of Xinjiang.
Here is something you probably didn’t know, Xinjiang is home to the #1 and #2 ranked snowboarding runs in all of China. With the success of this year’s Winter Games this region will no doubt continue to grow in popularity.
Some of my other favorite highlights from this years’ games include Finland winning the Gold Medal in Men’s Hockey for the first time in the nation’s history. Finland had medaled 6 times in hockey with 4 bronzes and 2 silvers but this gold meant was so special for the Nordic country.
The snowboarding community said goodbye to the sport’s most iconic figure Shaun White who made his incredible 5th Olympic appearance in Beijing. Shaun finished in the toughest spot for an Olympian….fourth, but was going for the gold by attempting a difficult trick. He didn’t land it, but received a standing ovation for at least attempting it and American Shaun White will always be remembered as the snowboarding GOAT (Greatest of All Time).
Finally, one of the most inspiring and impressive performances during these Winter Games came from Team USA bobsled member Elana Meyers Taylor who tested positive for Covid upon arrival, and was forced to quarantine by herself away from her 2-year-old son. Elana is still breastfeeding her son and had to pump and send milk to him while she was recovering in isolation. Elena would go on to win a silver and bronze medal for Team USA and one can have nothing but total respect for these female athletes who are also balancing their athletic career with their most important job in life….being a mother.
As we come to the conclusion of this video. I want to be very honest.
The 2022 Olympics was a smashing success for China, however there was a missed opportunity outside of China, as the games failed to connect with many international fans.
From a United States led political boycott to questions surrounding China’s human rights records, many international fans simply lost interest in these games. However, many of you know that I’m an optimist and always look for the positive in every situation and for me this comes down to how the Olympic movement.
If I had to describe what the Olympic movement means in one photo, this would be it:
This is Norway’s Therese Johaug who captured the 30km cross country skiing gold medal. She was waiting at the finish line for the last participant Chinese athlete Dinigeer Yilamujiang who finished 25 mins later. This is what the beauty of sport represents, putting aside differences and just connecting as real human beings.
At the closing ceremony, Beijing illuminated the Bird’s Nest stadium with signs reading “One World” and “One Family”. But do you remember how it all started? At the Opening Ceremony each nation proudly walked into the Bird’s Nest behind a snowflake displaying their name.
These individual snowflakes came together to form a beautiful master snowflake that represented a united world.
The past 2 years have been difficult for everyone. As we continue to fight the pandemic, we need to come together now more than ever. My hope is we can all be like that Norwegian skier who waited for her competitor from China for 25 minutes to simply embrace her. This is what the Olympic spirit is truly all about and this will be my lasting memory from the Beijing Winter Olympics.
But now it’s your turn? What was the highlight for you during this year’s Olympic games? Do you feel these Olympic Games were a success or failure? Please drop me a comment down below and share your thoughts.