Greetings From Beijing: When the Winter Olympics Meets the Spring Festival

2022-February-7 16:08 By:

In four days, the 2022 Winter Olympics will unfold at the Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed the “Bird’s Nest”. The athletes and the organizing team are doing the final warming-up for the upcoming events.

Gearing up for the games during the holidays

This year’s Spring Festival is certainly a special one for the Chinese Olympians.

In the Capital Indoor Stadium, China’s figure skating team is down to the final preparations. Reserving all four available training sessions on New Year’s Eve, the training will last until nearly 11pm. Pair skaters Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, as well as Peng Cheng and Jin Yang, with high expectations for victory, may have to embrace the Chinese New Year on the shuttle bus.

“Our devotions are worthwhile. It’s not only for our personal dreams, but also for the goals of the whole team,” said Jin Boyang, who will represent China in the men’s singles figure skating.

Although there is still some time before the Beijing Winter Paralympics, the Chinese wheelchair curling team, aiming to defend its title, has continued training on Chinese New Year’s Eve. “In preparation for the Paralympics, we did this every year. We will strive to win another gold medal,” said Hu Junfu, the executive deputy leader of China’s wheelchair curling team.

In the Yanqing competition zone, the temperature on Xiaohaituo Mountain has dropped to -16 °C, but the whole community is still in full swing. Athletes from all over the world have been familiarizing themselves with the venue following its opening for training. The staff for venue operations are also busy carrying out rehearsals to ensure the smooth progress of the event.

According to the plan, an all-factor rehearsal will be held in the National Alpine Skiing Center on the first day of the New Year, simulating the whole process of the Men’s events in Speed Skating; including the competitions, post-competition interviews, press conferences and victory ceremonies. With the test just around the corner, the staff members said, “Getting prepared is our way of celebration.”

On New Year's Eve, the radio security technical team in the Beijing Olympic Village was still on 24-hour duty. Besides carrying out equipment verification and issuing special labels for radio transmission equipment for the athletes’ entourage, they also conduct 24-hour electromagnetic environment monitoring to ensure smooth communication of various radio equipment such as intercom, cameras, and Wi-Fi in the Village.

Celebrating new year as volunteers

With flags of different nations and regions fluttering in the wind and red lanterns hanging on tree branches, the atmosphere in the Beijing Olympic Village is warm and festive, symbolizing harmony and joy in China and the world.

At 7:50 am, Qiu Yiran, a sophomore student at Beijing Foreign Studies University, arrived at the Olympic Village to start a new day of volunteer service. Coming off duty, Qiu returned to the hotel to celebrate the New Year’s Eve with professors and classmates, who were also volunteering for the Games. “Tonight, we have a number of activities, such as writing the Chinese character ‘Fu’ (happiness), guessing puzzles and distributing red envelopes (money for good fortune). This is the first lunar New Year that I won’t spend at home with my parents, but I can celebrate with my friends, which is another form of reunion,” Qiu said.

In Zhangjiakou, volunteers pasted the “Fu” characters and Spring Festival couplets on the doors of their dormitory rooms and the gate of the Mountain Media Center. They also held a small gala, where the audience enjoyed a variety of performances including songs, magic tricks and more.

“Being able to celebrate the Spring Festival while serving the Winter Olympics makes me feel like I am with the country,” said Hu Xiao, a student from the Communication University of China and a volunteer at Zhangjiakou, adding that this is an unforgettable life experience and a unique reunion.

Volunteers from different venues, including the National Stadium, the National Indoor Stadium, the National Aquatic Center, and the National Speed Skating Oval, held meetings online. They greeted each other for the new year and expressed their best wishes for the Winter Olympics.

At the canteen entrance of the Yanqing Olympic Village, visitors are welcomed by statues of the adorable Olympic mascots Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon. The whole area is decorated with Chinese New Year theme. Lucky Chinese knots, small red lanterns and window flowers could be seen in every corner and the Olympic Village was transformed into a festival stage.

The Olympics as a multicultural experience

On the second floor of the Main Media Center, an international staff member from the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) received a Spanish language pop-up book as a gift. Upon opening it excitedly, a 3D illustration of Chinese dragon dance appeared under her eyes.

“I've long known that today marks lunar New Year’s Eve in China. My colleagues and I lined up for this book to learn more about the Spring Festival and Chinese customs. I would like to bring it back to my homeland,” she said with a smile, “It’s my first time experiencing Chinese New Year’s Eve. I’m going to have a drink at the hotel and celebrate with my colleagues!”

Having just finished an interview, Anthony Edgar, the former head of Media Operations of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a senior consultant for Beijing 2022, greeted many of his old friends. Wearing a red scarf and a pair of red-rimmed glasses, he was in a perfect match with the New Year.

“The Spring Festival has already been a part of my life,” said Anthony, who grew up in Australia and was familiar with Chinese restaurants and Chinese culture. “In the world’s first Dual-Olympic city, I wish all my Chinese friends a Happy Chinese New Year!”

Pasting up couplets for spring festival is a traditional custom and an important part of the celebrations, which has attracted the attention of many international guests at the media center.

A reporter with New York Times was curiously listening to a Chinese colleague for the meaning of one of the couplets. At the work station of Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, there was a creative couplet reading “Life tastes so sweet, full of beauty and wealth” with a horizonal line saying “Full of energy”, highlighting the best wishes for the new year.

“When Beijing Winter Olympics meets the Chinese New Year, you must act according.” said a Yomiuri Shimbun reporter, “In the new year, I wish everyone good health and happiness. May the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics be a great success!”

By Kong Xiangxin, Zhao Xu

Wang Jinyu, Li Dian, Luo Xin, Wang Qin’ou, Lu Xianting, Zhang Han, Xia Zilin, Zheng Zhi, Ma Bangjie, Yao Youming, Hu Jiali and Li Linhai also contribute to the article

Translated by Zheng Wenbo, Tsinghua University

Editor: WXY
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