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Nate Jackson / February 21, 2022

The End of the Grim Winter Olympics Spectacle

China playing host during a pandemic it unleashed was a poor choice.

At the outset of the 2022 Winter Olympics, our Douglas Andrews drew a line in the sand: Don’t Watch One Minute of China’s Genocide Olympics. The Games were put on by the corrupt International Olympic Committee and hosted by the genocidal ChiCom regime in Beijing. The ratings did indeed suffer, ending up with half the U.S. audience as the Winter Games four years ago. Eventually, even NBC anchors and commentators were offering relatively blistering rebukes of China and the IOC.

But China still hosted the Olympics and it still got some undeserved publicity for it. Sure, there was the unwanted publicity, which even included a diplomatic boycott from several nations, but what Mark Alexander called the “porcelain facade” after attending the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing remains.

Let’s recount some of the issues:

Genocide and political recrimination: As our Emmy Griffin recounted, China is a brutal and repressive state. Fifty years ago, it was Mao’s murderous “Cultural Revolution” in which tens of millions of Chinese people died. Life is less deadly now under the Chinese Communist Party, but that’s not to say it’s pleasant. There are at least 260 concentration camps in the country, housing political and ethnic prisoners. That includes the Uyghurs, who’ve received a fair bit of attention, but plenty of others as well. Oppression extends to tennis star Peng Shuai, even as she was paraded around the Games as if she’d never experienced the sexual assault she alleged not long ago. Untold numbers suffer and die every day in China.

Spying police state: The FBI warned athletes about bringing their phones to the Games, advising burner phones instead. NBC wouldn’t even send announcers to Beijing, partly for this reason but more especially about COVID.

COVID police state: China, which launched this plague upon the world, still laughably claims to have just 4,636 deaths from COVID. Nothing but lies and false information have come out of Beijing about the virus. Yet to whatever extent there were fewer deaths per capita in China, it may be due to police state restrictions. Citizens were not allowed to leave home. Throughout the Games, Chinese authorities were often seen wearing hazmat suits. So-called quarantine hotels were the subject of numerous complaints and outrage. Virtually no spectators were allowed for most events.

Drugged athletes: Russian athletes could not compete under the Russian flag due to previous bouts of cheating in the Olympics, but there they were, still competing and still doping. Most of the attention was on the plight of 15-year-old ice skater Kamila Valieva. But as columnist Christine Brennan wrote:

Russia seems to get more chances than anyone, so it was fitting that the last medal ceremony of these Games, held on the floor of the stadium, was for a Russian cross-country skiing gold medalist. The Russian flag wasn’t supposed to be here, but there it was on his detachable armband. The irony was lost on no one that the nation the IOC officially didn’t allow to be at these Games was the one holding the final celebration.

The saber-rattling over Ukraine also cast a shadow over the entire Games.

Disloyal athletes: Eighteen-year-old American-born skier Eileen Gu became the first freestyle skier to win three medals during one Olympics. Yet she did so for her mother’s native China, not the U.S., in a political coup for the host nation.

Fake snow and climate offenses: The worst kept secret of selecting Beijing as the host of the Winter Olympics is that the city doesn’t get much snow. Indeed, virtually all of the snow for these Games was artificial. The American climate scolds noticed that the world’s worst climate offender was at it again. The New York Times reported:

China did not move mountains to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. But it flooded a dried riverbed, diverted water from a key reservoir that supplies Beijing and resettled hundreds of farmers and their families, all to feed one of the most extensive snow-making operations in the history of the Games.

Inside Climate News worries that Beijing’s Potemkin Winter Village will “create long-term changes to the areas’ ecosystems.”

Perhaps all of this scandalous news will precipitate changes in the IOC and future Games. One place it won’t bring change is China, where Xi Jinping will only see it as a propaganda victory. Either way, it was what political analyst Jim Geraghty rightly called the “Worst. Olympics. Ever.”

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