May 12, 2022

an opening ceremony without heat or Westerners

Chinese President Xi Jinping set the tone on Thursday, February 3, the day before the opening ceremony, in a short video message addressed to the International Olympic Committee: “China will do its best to provide the world with a simple, safe and splendid Winter Olympics. » A way to leave its mark on these games. His games. Beijing 2022 will not be a remake of Beijing 2008, which was anything but simple.

The master of ceremonies, filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who was already officiating in 2008, understood the message. China can no longer content itself with showing the world that it is a great modern country. She must “to be loved”, had recognized the Chinese president in the spring of 2021. Hence the highlighting, this year, during the ceremony, not only of Chinese technology – with some spectacular special effects – but also of the Chinese people and especially children.

The common people and children: two categories of the population dear to a president who has made “common prosperity” and demographic renewal two of its priorities. Zhang Yimou, sentenced in 2014 to a heavy fine for having had three children but today returned to grace, must savor this reversal of history. Consequence of this presidential choice: unlike 2008, no Chinese star other than sports was honored this year. The time in China is no longer for rhinestones and glitter: the stars of showbiz and the business world are discreet, except when they are doing an act of philanthropy.

Result: a ceremony without false note but without glamor or emotion. The 3,000 extras – almost five times less than in 2008 – failed to enthuse a relatively small audience – for health reasons, the Olympic stadium was only half full – and handpicked. The show was successful but the party failed. The fault was partly the cold that reigned in the Bird’s Nest, the stadium built for the 2008 Games, but above all the Covid-19 crisis, as in Tokyo, in the summer of 2021.

Read also Beijing 2022 Olympics under a health and political bubble
Xi Jinping, center, at the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympics in Beijing on February 4, 2022.

Parade in boredom

The public being composed only of Chinese – and even Pekingese –, the world was not at the rendezvous. Apart from the 176 Chinese athletes and, to a lesser extent, the athletes from Hong Kong, all the other delegations marched in polite, even polite silence, very quickly arousing more boredom than curiosity. Due to Covid-19, the distance between the stadium and some events and also, perhaps, a boycott by some athletes, a large part of the 91 delegations consisted of only a few representatives.

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