Let the Games begin!
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony kicks off bright and early at 6:30 a.m. Eastern on Friday. (Here’s where you can watch or stream it.) While some sports have already begun competing, this curtain-raiser marks the official beginning of the international competition with the lighting of the Olympic torch.
Beijing is the first city to ever host both the Summer Games (in 2008) and the Winter Games, and so it has repurposed many of its 2008 venues for this year’s events. Almost 3,000 athletes are expected to compete in the Beijing Olympics, which will run through Feb. 20 under the shadow of COVID-19 and a diplomatic boycott by countries including the United States to protest Chinese human-rights abuses.
That all doesn’t seem to have deterred the Winter Games’ worldwide partners, which include publicly-traded companies such as Airbnb ABNB, Alibaba Group BABA, Coca-Cola KO, P&G PG, Toyota TM, Visa V and more.
So as the torch gets lit and the Games officially get underway, here are some facts and figures about the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, drawn from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Associated Press.
Beijing Winter Olympics by the numbers:
Around 2,900 athletes will compete, representing about 90 National Olympic Committees.
There are 109 events in 15 disciplines across seven Olympic sports. These sports include: the biathlon, bobsledding (including bobsleigh and skeleton), curling, ice hockey, luge, skating (including speed skating, short track speed skating and figure skating) and skiing (including alpine, cross-country, freestyle, Nordic combined, ski jumping and snowboarding).
Seven new events have been added, including: women’s mono bob (under bobsleigh), freestyle big-air skiing, as well as mixed team events in ski jumping, freestyle skiing aerials, snowboard cross, and short-track speed-skating team relay.
109 sets of medals will be awarded — seven more than at PyeongChang 2018.
45% of the athletes are women, and 47% of the events are women’s events, making Beijing 2022 the most gender-balanced Winter Olympics yet.
All 13 competition venues will be powered with renewable energy, with solar and wind as primary energy sources, for the first time at an Olympic Games. And natural CO2 refrigeration systems will be used at four ice venues — the first time this low-climate-impact technology will be used in China and at the Winter Games.
Emissions for Beijing 2022 will be offset through forestry carbon sinks and donations of carbon credits from official Olympic corporate partners.
$4 billion: The budget Beijing organizers say will cover hosting the 2022 Games, but the real cost could be much higher. Russia reportedly spent $51 billion on the 2014 Sochi Games. But Beijing has the luxury of repurposing the venues built for the 2008 Summer Olympics for the Winter Games. For example, the Water Cube for swimming is now the Ice Cube for curling.
There are three competition zones, set in Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou. And China allocated more than $9 billion for a high-speed rail linking Beijing to nearby ski resorts in Zhangjiakou and Yangqing.
$880 million: What the IOC is giving toward Beijing organizers’ costs.
A giant panda named Bing Dwen Dwen is the official mascot of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. In Mandarin Chinese, which is the official dialect of China, “Bing” has several meanings. The most common is ice, which is fitting for a Winter Olympics. “Bing” also symbolizes purity and strength, while “Dwen Dwen” means robust and lively, and also represents children.
And here’s a glimpse of Bing Dwen Dwen in action, which could certainly score a medal in cuteness.