By Chen Xiaodong
WITH fewer than 50 days till the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the world’s attention is increasingly focused on Beijing, which will be the host to this great gathering of humankind.
Under the five Olympic rings, the universal sports language and spirit will bring together peace, solidarity, hope and courage to light the way for humankind to join hands in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and provide a stage for building a community with a shared future for humankind.
The Beijing Winter Olympic Games is about solidarity and friendship. The Olympic Charter states that the Olympic spirit requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The Olympic Games, upholding this spirit, symbolises solidarity and friendship, and have long served as a useful platform for cultural exchanges and mutual learning among the different nations.
For some time now, people of vision in the international community who uphold solidarity and justice, have voiced strong support for the Beijing Winter Olympics and opposition to the politicisation of sport. According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, the IOC organises the Games to unite the world, not to divide it; political intervention would only destroy and bring the Games to an end.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Russia opposes the politicisation of the Olympics and hopes the Beijing Games will bring festive joy in the name of sport and peace, and on behalf of athletes and sports fans.
American two-time Olympic Gold Medallist and World Cup alpine skier, Mikaela Pauline Shiffrin, said the Winter Olympics is not just about sport, “there is a whole different side of it, which I think is way more important. It’s the unity and that we actually bring the world together to feel some sort of camaraderie through sport and how powerful that actually is.”
Not long ago, the 76th UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the Beijing Winter Olympic Truce Resolution, stressing that the Beijing Winter Olympic Games will be an opportunity to demonstrate the precious value of human solidarity, resilience and international cooperation. The number of countries that sponsor the truce resolution reached a new high in recent years.
Recently, the Declaration of the 10th Olympic Summit also voiced support to the Beijing Winter Olympics and opposition to the politicisation of sport on behalf of the international sports community. The 8th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Ministerial Conference adopted the Dakar Declaration, stressing support for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, and demonstrating the confidence of the Chinese and African people in the success of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The Beijing Winter Olympics will be a green and high-tech one. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, “Beijing, the only city in the world that has hosted the Summer and Winter Olympics, will make unique contributions to the international Olympic Movement”.
“We will not only host a successful Winter Olympic Games, but also make it distinctive, splendid and unique”. Following the green, inclusive, open and clean approach advocated by President Xi Jinping, preparations for the Winter Olympics and anti-pandemic work have been going smoothly, setting many new records in the Olympic history.
China has built the world’s first 500 kV Zhangbei flexible DC power grid, making the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics the first Olympic Games that uses green and clean electric energy. Beijing has become the first host city of the Winter Olympic Games that uses the most environmentally friendly ice-making technology on a large scale.
The Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-Speed Railway has become the world’s first intelligent high-speed railway with a speed of 350km per hour. Millimetre-wave 5G will be used for live broadcast of the events, making it the first Winter Olympics with a large-scale smart 5G technology application. The Beijing Winter Olympics will combine low-carbon and environmental innovation with the Olympic spirit, usher in an extraordinary green and high-tech Winter Olympics, and start a new era of global winter sport.
The Beijing Winter Olympics is about lighting up dreams which brooks no political manipulation. The Olympic Games is a stage for athletes and a grand gathering of all humanity. It carries the shared dream of humankind in pursuit of peace and progress.
Athletes from all over the world are making their final preparations and looking forward to showcasing their talents on the grand stage. Austin Florian, an athlete for the US skeleton team, said the facilities at the Beijing Winter Olympics are world-class and will make a perfect Winter Olympics.
The German bobsleigh and skeleton team spoke highly of the Winter Olympics venue and are eager to compete for medals in Beijing. Mialitiana Clerc, the first female to compete for Madagascar at the Winter Olympics, has designed her own uniform for the Beijing Games, vowing to “inspire all Africans” on the slopes in the Chinese capital.
All the athletes are telling the world with their actions and words that nothing can stop the yearning for the stage of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the pursuit of the Olympic spirit, and aspiration for a better future for the world.
However, amid the world’s enthusiasm for the upcoming Winter Olympics, a handful of Western politicians with ulterior purposes attempt to take advantage of the occasion to craft a publicity stunt, stealing the spotlight from the athletes, putting on clumsy political shows, and claiming that they will not send officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics.
According to Olympic rules, national leaders attend the Olympics at the invitation of their National Olympic Committee and register in the IOC system. Those politicians who have not been invited at all are bending the rules when they say their countries will not send officials to attend.
Some of these people make far-fetched connections with the so-called human rights issues out of political self-interest. The Olympic Charter has made it clear that “the practice of sport is a human right”. Linking sports competition with political scheme is an absurd act that undermines the human rights of athletes and the Olympic spirit. It gravely undermines the international Olympic cause and runs counter to the trend of solidarity and cooperation.
As a responsible major African country that promotes global solidarity and cooperation, South Africa has also actively spoken out for justice. The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has made it clear in several statements that it firmly supports the Beijing Winter Olympics, rejects politicising sport, and believes that the 2022 Winter Olympics will leave a precious legacy for China and Beijing.
The hearts of the South African people are with the Chinese people. In a statement of the outcome of the central committee meeting, the South African Communist Party unequivocally condemned certain countries for politicising sport and creating division and confrontation. Ambassador Anil Sooklal, deputy director-general of Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa stressed that “the forthcoming Winter Olympic Games is a shining beacon of hope to the international community, and we are looking forward to a great festival of humanity in the form of sport”.
At present, while the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging across the globe, the Omicron variant begins to spread. The global situation has proved time and again that sowing division and undermining multilateralism will only bring disaster to humankind. Time and reality will prove that no boycott will stop the athletes’ pursuit of excellence, no manipulation will hinder the success of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and no noise will slow the march of humankind towards the future.
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will spark our common aspiration for peace and development, and highlight human solidarity and cooperation.
* Chen Xiaodong is the Chinese ambassador to South Africa
** The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of Independent Media.