Winter Olympics open amid walls, masks and clouds of sanitizer

Follow our latest coverage of the 2022 Winter Olympics . BEIJING — There will surely be wonders, because there are always some at the O...


Follow our latest coverage of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

BEIJING — There will surely be wonders, because there are always some at the Olympic Games. Someone – most likely someone you’ve never heard of – will dazzle with their speed, grace, ferocity, or courage.

But there is a certain sadness in Beijing Winter Games, which officially opened on Friday. Whether it’s politics, politics, or pandemic, the Olympics have dimmed in the very city that, in 2008, made it a marvelous, ambitious, and enduring spectacle.

Thousands of visitors from all over the world have descended on China’s sprawling capital and its surrounding mountains, daily traversing the heart of the city with no way to touch, taste or interact with it. Beijing residents watch their Olympic guests through the towering fences that surround each venue and through the windows of the private buses that transport them from place to place.

For the second time in a year, the Olympics will primarily serve as a sound stage for sport: active, emotional and exciting in the strings, consumed by viewers locked in a distant world, watched by sparse crowds in near-silent grandstands. Such was the case when women’s hockey kicked off on Thursday, at least, when a carefully selected group of spectators were invited to watch Canada and Switzerland play. They did not applaud. They did not applaud. Many, it seemed, weren’t even always following the puck.

The so-called bubble, a region the size of a small town surrounding the Olympic buildings, is engineered to harbor a deadly pathogen, which keeps all but some spectators away. There are rumblings of protests and fears about how a proud and defiant China might confront them. There is a sobering landscape of barbed wire and disinfectant haze, and of a city disconnected from another precious turning point on the world stage. There’s a mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen, but exactly who the giant panda is there to entertain isn’t always obvious.

That may change on Saturday. The first medals will arrive this weekend. The Olympics, whatever they are, are here.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Winter Olympics open amid walls, masks and clouds of sanitizer
Winter Olympics open amid walls, masks and clouds of sanitizer
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