I am excited about the upcoming sports event, but it is hard for me to ignore that my time as a competitive figure skater is over. All joking aside. This Winter Olympics are a different event. While many participating athletes trained very hard, undertaking an exhausting process to reach their Olympic level, western media drew a picture of despair.
They are wondering why it is not in another country. The reality is that in 2014 the IOC had three remaining applicants: Almaty (Kazakhstan), Beijing (China) and Oslo (Norway). But on October 1, 2014, Oslo withdrew its application. Munich (where I live) decided in 2013 via popular vote not to participate. There was a lack of applicants, and Beijng had the highest score (compared to Almaty) evaluated by the committee, which assessed quality and feasibility within 14 categories.
They are indicating that athletes are kept in hostile or in prison. The reality is that China has been executing for more than two years a stringent zero-COVID policy. Other countries, too. Some western countries decided differently, mainly because of the different understanding of individual rights versus individual responsibility within society. Also, healthcare and demographic composition are not the same, which must be considered. There is no point discussing a country's strategy to fight the Coronavirus. As a guest, you accept it, or you do not attend. In Australia, for example, you need to be vaccinated to play tennis.
They are also requesting to boycott the Winter Olympics. Some countries indeed decided to do a diplomatic boycott. But let us also remember the Olympic spirit. People young and old will experience the sport and the intensity of the competition. They form international friendships, solidarity, and mutual understandings of fair play. It is about the effort, the struggle and the refusal to give up. If you want to influence—you need power. You receive power by having the decision-making authority, the budget authority or a well-established network of political impact. Diplomatic boycotts are insignificant. I agree with Emmanuel Macron, "you either have a complete boycott and don't send athletes" (only harming your athletes) "or you try to change things with useful actions". The decision not to attend eliminates the opportunity to talk and increase your influence network.
The stadiums are built for athletes to compete and not for diplomats. As long as the right people with proper sportsmanship go, the 2022 Beijing Olympics will be successful. Some will increase their influence. Others will boycott, hoping it helps them manage their "own affairs" in their countries.
As a sports enthusiast, I look forward to seeing biathlon, cross-country skiing, and speed skating. Maybe a bit of bobsleighing, ski jumping and nordic combined. If my girl's request, figure skating, too. No curling. Mainly, I am excited to see athletes that continue to challenge the limits and set new world records.