Herman Tiu Laurel
As the Beijing Winter Olympics opened on Friday, with up to 3,000 international athletes and participating officials and twice the number of world leaders as there were in the past summer Olympics attending, and all foreign participants expressing enthusiasm and satisfaction with the preparations and hospitality, we can already say this year’s winter Olympics has triumphed – despite the cynical efforts to disrupt it and the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Speaking from the perspective of a Filipino and member of the ASEAN, I can say that the enthusiasm for the games in our region is indeed genuine and effusive. Imagine our tropical countries sending our athletes to compete in winter games that we do not have in our countries. For instance, the Philippines is cheering its one-person team of Asa Miller who will be competing in the Alpine Skiing events. He has become quite a celebrity in the country.
Among RCEP partners, South Korea, Japan, and Australia send large delegations to the games no matter what some governments say and render politicized perspectives moot and academic. Other ASEAN countries are also ardently participating.
It is amazing to see athletes coming from across the globe to be one with the spirit and games of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Delegations have come from Latin America and Caribbean Peru, Chile, Haiti, Trinidad, Tobago. African Eritrea, Ghana, Madagascar, Morocco, and Nigeria are also joining, giving an idea of the extent of enthusiasm and participation.
In fact, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation expressed in November 2021 that it “opposed the politicization of sports.”
The triumph over the pandemic fears is also important to consider and understand. China’s scientific and disciplined approach ensures the safety and health of participating athletes and other members of 91 countries participating. Beijing screening has detected 2.9 percent positive tests for athletes and officials before entering the respective Olympic “loop” and “bubble.”
Beijing’s anti-COVID-19 preparations cover not only the 3,000 athletes and officials but other guests, such as hundreds of media crews and entourages of foreign dignitaries participating.
A gargantuan job is not made any lighter by reports of possible attempts at sabotaging the Games’ proficiency and image preparations by malicious elements. Apparently, elements hostile to mankind’s solidarity never sleep and are active covertly and overtly.
Even as the Anglosphere media continues to drum up their measly reality.
The world has all but wholly forgotten the so-called human rights protesters. Shady human rights issues are being raised in meagre protest actions in the West. Still, global enthusiasm and shine for the spirit of solidarity and brotherhood dissipate them into oblivion.
The world appreciates China’s economic and humanitarian progress for its minorities, often doing better than some among the majority.
The pre-opening period was highlighted by the in-person meeting of President Xi Jinping with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach who expressed to President Xi, “This is the first time for some nations to participate in the Winter Games.
It fully shows how the Beijing Olympic Games has been widely supported by the world and the international community is also generally against politicizing sports events.”
The discussion with President Xi also highlighted one aspect that will be vital to the subsequent global pandemic economic recovery, “The Olympic Winter Games are part of our vision of encouraging 300 million Chinese to experience winter sports. Through sport we will improve the health and well-being of all Chinese people,” Xi said. Reading between these lines one finds a new factor for economic growth for the Chinese and world economy.
In a wonderful metaphor, President Xi said, “Ice and snow are also as valuable as gold and silver,” a truly poetic way of describing the economic promise of winter sports for China and the global economic recovery as 300-million Chinese middle class take up the expensive pastime. I suppose that in the next China International Import Exhibition in November 2022, winter sports equipment and apparel will be among the major new items China will look for among its imports from other countries.
The official motto for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is “Together for a Shared Future,” and indeed it has delivered the message to the seven-billion people of the world cogently and powerfully, reflecting the consensus for unity and collective effort to achieve the historic goals of mankind – of permanent peace and prosperity for all.
So, “Let the Games begin!”