Winter sport heavyweights . . .
Amid surging global geopolitical tensions and sustained human rights criticism towards China, the 2022 Beijing Olympics concluded with a stunning ceremony in the mainly empty Bird’s Nest National Stadium on Sunday. After 16 days of competition, Norway topped the total medal count with 37 medals, followed by other winter sports giants, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Germany, and Canada, with 32, 27, and 26 medals, respectively. The Games had a chilling reception outside much of China, including boycotts due to human rights issues. But domestically, Beijing 2022 was a huge success. China recorded its best-ever Winter Olympics performance tallying 15 medals, including nine golds, which earned it third place after Norway and Germany in the gold medal count.
Foreign-born and immigrant Olympians . . .
China achieved its record-breaking performance thanks in part to its many foreign-born Chinese athletes. China is one of a few Asian countries that does not allow dual citizenship. A debate emerged this month about the citizenship and ‘Chineseness’ of several athletes on China’s Olympics team. For example, 15 foreign-born players, including 11 Canadians, were on China’s men’s ice hockey team, but it is unclear whether they have become Chinese citizens. Despite many of these athletes claiming to inspire future Chinese hockey players, this precarity is a clear juxtaposition to Article 5 of China’s Nationality Law. To date, these foreign-born players, including triple medallist Eileen Gu, have avoided explicitly answering questions about their citizenship.
Controversies persist . . .
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) tried to showcase the success of women and youth participation in the Games. At the same time, China certainly hoped its role as Olympic host would translate into international prestige and soft power. But the doping scandal and subsequent poor treatment of 15-year-old ROC skater Kamila Valieva by her coach has led many observers to question the IOC’s approach to drug testing and the involvement of young athletes at the Games. Additionally, the subsequent absence from the Chinese team of the Uyghur skier who lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony has led to further debates about China’s ethnic minority policy and whether the athlete was chosen to light the Olympic flame in an attempt to outshine the country’s human rights record.
- CBC: IOC president declares the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games closed
- The Globe And Mail: Uyghur skier who lit Olympic cauldron may end the Games as she began them – in obscurity
- South China Morning Post: Winter Olympics: why has Eileen Gu’s ‘Chineseness’ sparked a raging debate on nationality and allegiance to China and US?