The Beijing Winter Games: what you need to know

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And we’re off to the races vytautas dranginis via unsplash

Time for world-wide competitions to get people suddenly interested in sports

As of January 27, Canadian Olympians have been arriving in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The games bring lots of excitement and controversy during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the games will still go forward despite critiques of pandemic protocols causing some complications. The events will begin on February 2 with various games before the opening ceremonies on February 4. It may feel like such a short time since the last games, which took place in Tokyo in 2021, but it is time for the next round of celebrations to happen. In this article, you will find out about some of the symbols China used for their mascot and torch, some notable Saskatchewan athletes who will be competing, and how and where to broadcast the games.

One of the most exciting parts of the Olympics is the torch relay. The lighting ceremony took place in October of 2021 and was broadcast as the flame journeyed from Greece to Beijing. This year, the torch relay will have some restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19; the run will take place on a closed loop outdoors track, and there will be a reduced course and fewer runners than initially planned. The relay will take place from February 2 to February 4 and will conclude with the opening ceremonies, which will be broadcast on the Olympics official website, CBC, and the CBC Olympics App. 

The torch’s design has many references to Chinese culture. According to the official Winter Beijing website, the torch has a few references to the summer Olympics design from 2008, which also took place in Beijing. The torch bears resemblance through the same white and red colour scheme. On the torch, there is a winding design that represents the Great Wall of China and the courses for the ski slopes. On the bottom of the torch, there are designs in white and red that represent paper cutting, a folk art that originated in China. The torch’s design is meant to represent growth, comradery, and the general spirit of the Olympics. 

Beijing’s winter mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen, also has some references to Chinese culture. “Bing” in this context is translated to “ice” in English. “Dwen Dwen” means robust and lively, which are meant to encapsulate the games. The friendly panda mascot bears a suit of ice to represent the Games themselves, but also the advancements in technology that China has been making. The colourful design on Bing Dwen Dwen’s face is meant to be a reference to the technological methods that Olympics have been making for ice sports. This 2022 mascot is also a nod to the 2008 summer mascot, as a panda was one of the mascots for that year (and the panda is the national animal of China). 

There will be some notable athletes with Saskatchewan ties competing in the Winter Olympics this year. Jay Dearborn, a former athlete for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, is going to be featured on the bobsledding team this year. According to CBC news, Dearborn suffered an injury while playing football, and turned to bobsledding as an alternative. After COVID-19 restrictions were beginning to be implemented and football games were being canceled, he returned to bobsledding, and was eventually invited to join the Canadian team. Bobsledding will begin to broadcast on February 10 at midnight CST. 

Discover Humboldt features many Saskatchewan athletes who are going to the 2022 Winter games. Cianna Lieffers, who is from Cudworth, will be representing Saskatchewan on the women’s hockey team. She is involved in many hockey organizations, including the SJHL. Many of Saskatchewan’s athletes, coaches, and support staff have previously competed in the Olympics. This includes Marsha Hudey (speed skater) and Mark McMorris (snowboarding) who will be in their third Olympics. Todd McClements and Adam Burwell will be featured as coaches for some of the teams for the 2022 games. The long track speed skating team will have Mark Jesney, who is a physiotherapist, accompany them for the upcoming Winter Games.      

Broadcasting of the games will take place on many platforms, including CBC television broadcast, the CBC website, and the official Olympics website. The opening ceremonies will premiere at 5:30 am CST on February 4.  If that is too early for you, some platforms such as Peacock will have VODs and highlights to stream (although it will cost money). On the CBC website, streaming can be searched by day, event, and also by television event. If you want to only tune into figure skating, you can easily access the times on the CBC Olympics website. The official Olympics website has more information on how to access the games depending on which country you live in and suggests various providers.

If none of these options are available, the games are meant to be celebrated with other people. Following COVID-19 protocols, maybe stream the games with a friend. If a family member has cable television (do people still use that?) go over and watch with them. During all the uncertainty of the pandemic, the Olympics, with warts and all, can bring us together. This is the perfect time to learn about the symbols and cultures of other countries who are competing. It is time to learn about inspiring athletes from your own country or from other countries. Maybe look up the athletes who will be competing (or have competed) from your province. With access to the internet, you can learn everything you need to about controversies, policies, athletes, and companionship of the Olympic games. In 2018, I was walking on the U of R campus during the Soccer World Cup, and I witnessed a group of students surrounding a television in lab building cheering for their own teams and spending time together. The competition between people on campus brought me joy and made me excited for world-wide sporting events. Let the Winter Games be the catalyst to learn about other cultures, and show sportsmanship towards the people around you. 

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