BEIJING — The 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony kicks off Friday in Beijing, just six months after the Summer Olympics – delayed for a year amid the coronavirus pandemic – concluded in Tokyo.
Here’s what you need to know about the event:
1. When and where will the opening ceremony take place?
The ceremony is set to begin at 8 p.m. Beijing time – or 7 a.m. EST – Friday at the National Stadium, aka the Bird’s Nest.
The motto for this year’s Olympics is “together for a shared future,” according to the International Olympic Committee’s website.
“‘Together for a shared future’” demonstrates unity and a collective effort, embodying the core values and vision of the Olympic movement, and the goal of pursuing world unity, peace and progress,” the website reads. “The motto considered the key values of the Paralympic Games, in particular the role they play in contributing to a more inclusive society.”
The Games will officially end with the closing ceremony on Feb. 20.
2. Who will be there?
Although high-profile world leaders such as China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Pakistan’s Imran Khan will be at the opening ceremony, the U.S., Britain and other allies have refused to send government representatives to the events amid a boycott of China’s alleged violations of human rights, according to The Wall Street Journal.
3. Who are the U.S. flag bearers?
Fellow athletes chose bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, a three-time Olympic medalist, and curler John Shuster, who won the gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics, as the flag bearers for Team USA, according to a news release.
Because Meyers Taylor is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, speed skater and 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Brittany Bowe will carry the flag in her place, the release said.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to lead Team USA into the Opening Ceremony,” Bowe said in a statement. “Taking on this responsibility is the honor of a lifetime, and I will proudly carry the American flag on behalf of Elana, her family and all of Team USA.”
4. What impact has COVID-19 had on the ceremony and other events?
Officials announced last month that members of the general public will not be able to attend the Winter Olympics amid coronavirus concerns.
According to The Associated Press, the organizing committee said in a Jan. 17 statement that only “selected” spectators will be allowed at the events, which already had been closed to fans from outside the country.
CNN reported that officials are inviting about 150,000 spectators to the Games.
5. A familiar face is behind this year’s opening ceremony.
Filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who oversaw the 2008 Summer Games opening ceremony in Beijing, has returned to direct this year’s ceremony, according to the IOC website.
The Academy Award winner vowed that the presentation will be “simple, safe and splendid,” the website said.
“In 2008, the Olympics was a brilliant stage and chance for our country to show ourselves,” Zhang, 71, previously told the Xinhua news agency, according to the AP. “It’s different now.”
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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