Building Solidarity Through Games

We are not powerless if we stay together.

As a promoter of the Olympic spirit and a peaceful and better world, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, unity and solidarity, Chinese President Xi Jinping in his video address at the opening ceremony of the 139th Session of the International Olympic Committee on February 3 revealed that his vision for hosting the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games goes beyond sports. Rather, the Chinese Government’s vision for hosting the winter games is to send a message of solidarity – that we are not powerless if we stay together – urging the humanity to stay united amidst the worldwide challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic. China adopted “Together for a Shared Future” as the motto for Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. This motto is required now more than ever.

Also, the goal is to engage millions in winter sports in conjunction with China’s commitment of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, demonstrating the nation’s commitment to building a community with a shared future for mankind and the nation’s entry into a glorious era. This means that as the Chinese people celebrate the Year of the Tiger, which symbolizes resilience and strength, China no longer needs to prove its standing on the world stage because much has changed since China last hosted the Olympic Summer Games in 2008; instead, the nation wants to proclaim the far-reaching vision for a more prosperous and confident nation.

With the same vision, and the advent of the reform and opening up, China, a nation that was mocked as the “sick man of East Asia” in the early 1900s with several questions posed by the Tianjin Youth magazine regarding China’s capability of winning an Olympic gold medal and hosting the Olympic Games, won its first Olympic gold medal in 1984; in 2008, China hosted its first Olympic Games, putting an end to the doubts about its capability to host the Olympic Games and win a gold medal. Based on this feat, China is no longer viewed as the “sick man of East Asia,” but as the world’s second-largest economy, an upper-middle-income nation with per-capita GDP of over $12,500. Beijing has become the world’s first and only “dual Olympic city.” Likewise, more than 400 million Chinese have entered the middle-income group. Notably, the history of China’s involvement in the Olympic Games mirrors the nation’s long march from poverty to prosperity.

That same historical spirit of China’s involvement in the Olympic Games made the nation invest greatly in the Winter Olympic infrastructure. 654 ice rinks and 803 indoor and outdoor ski resorts had been built across the nation by the end of 2020. In this way, the infrastructure success at the Winter Olympics will be symbolic of the nation’s yearning to establish itself as a high-tech innovator in the worldwide economy.

Photo taken on Feb. 4, 2022 shows a cauldron holding the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo/Xinhua)

All of the 26 athletic venues are powered by green energy. The green, inclusive, open and clean approach to hosting the Olympic Winter Games reflects the Chinese leadership’s efforts to advance the Belt and Road Initiative and make ecological headway globally.

The dream of building a nation strong in sport is a critical indicator of a nation’s strength, and China’s ascension to sporting excellence has revealed the nation’s increasing vigor which is closely connected to the Chinese Dream. China’s ultimate purpose of building a sporting powerhouse and a strong nation is to fortify the Chinese people’s fitness, which also forms an important part of the Chinese endeavor to build a modern socialist nation in an all-round manner.

In terms of COVID-19 prevention, China aspires to showcase the Winter Olympics as a public health success. That is why when Xi met International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in late January, he emphasized the importance of “safety” of all participants of the event, relevant personnel and the Chinese people. Xi called for strict adherence to the closed-loop management measures to fortify epidemic prevention and control when inspecting the preparatory work of the games on the first workday after the 2022 New Year holiday, his fifth inspection of the Games’ preparation. This is a testament to the fact that the safety of all the participants is Xi’s number one concern.

China’s effective COVID-19 control has proven that Beijing is the right choice for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Therefore, as China continues to build its economy by hosting high-profile events such as the 2022 Winter Olympics, it is also attempting to demonstrate how successful the government has been in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.


The author is executive director of the Center for Nigerian Studies, Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University.