Politics chases the Beijing Olympics, and the doping scandal ends

Beijing handed over the Olympic flag to Milan-Cortina on Sunday after a Games that will be remembered for its utmost anti-Covid-19 measures and anger over the doping scandal surrounding 15-year-old Russian ski sensation Camila Valeeva.

The Olympics were haunted by politics, with several countries carrying out a diplomatic boycott of China’s human rights record, and the specter of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as President Vladimir Putin attended the opening ceremony in a show of solidarity against the West with President Xi Jinping. .

However, China had escaped any embarrassing protests by rivals over its treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority or something else, and the thousands of foreign journalists on hand were stuck inside the closed loop, unable to cover more widely.

The hermetically closed bubble prevented the spread of the new coronavirus in the Olympics or in society, and the policy of no-spreading of the emerging corona virus that isolated China within semi-closed borders shows no sign of easing.

However, the dreams of many athletes were shattered by positive tests that prevented them from competing, and dozens of them watched their preparations for forced isolation. Team officials and athletes demanded better conditions including better food, internet, training equipment and more space.

On the ice, San Francisco-born 18-year-old freestyle skater Elaine Gou won two golds and a silver for host China, creating hype from her dozens of endorsement deals and making her the young face of the Games even if it was her. The success raised questions about citizenship and privilege.

Gu’s performance is a boon to the development of snow sports in China. Xi, who will attend the closing ceremony Sunday night at the Bird’s Nest Stadium, hopes 300 million people will co-host the Games in winter sports.

China’s nine gold medals exceeded expectations, putting it in third place, while Norway, the winter sports powerhouse, with a population of just 5.5 million, won a record 16.

As Xi presented a spectacle of Chinese audiences unable to attend — tickets were not sold out, many linked to the Olympics by the unexpected obsession with panda mascot Bing Duen Duen — millions of Americans were tuned in, with television viewing reported being much lower compared to the Pyeong Games. Chang 2018.

Doping scandal: The biggest legacy of the Beijing Olympics will be the controversy over Valeeva, who stumbled under pressure in her last skate, the anger directed at Russian sports officials and the country’s doping history, which means her players cannot compete under the Russian flag.

Valieva failed a doping test at her national championships in December but the result was only revealed on February 8, a day after helping the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win the team event.

However, she was allowed to participate in the singles but finished fourth, and her error-ridden performance led to a harsh reaction from her coach Etteri Tutberidze which IOC President Thomas Bach later said he found “intimidating”.

The saga, which dominated the Games, reopened the debate about the suitability of the Olympic environment for the palace and prompted the world’s highest anti-doping body to investigate Valeva’s entourage.

The Beijing Olympics were the second in the COVID-19 era, and also the second in just six months, after the Tokyo Summer Games were postponed for a year.

Before Milan-Cortina hosts the Winter Games in 2026, Paris hosts the 2024 Summer Games, with Tony Estangoy, President of Paris 2024, promising Olympic lighting “at the end of the tunnel”.

(Reuters)

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