Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Athletic prowess on display

James Kon

The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 came to a close on February 20 after achieving several historic feats, with athletes and audiences contributing to record-breaking performances on and off the snow and ice.

It was the most digitally engaged Olympic Winter Games ever, with billions of engagements across digital platforms, including Olympic and Rights-Holding Broadcasters’ properties. There were more hours of broadcast coverage made available than at any previous Olympic Winter Games edition, including record coverage through digital platforms.

At the same time, the Beijing 2022 Opening Ceremony achieved the highest global audience reach ever for an Olympic Winter Games opening ceremony. In China, broadcast coverage of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 reached over 600 million people through TV alone.

Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 covered 19 days of competition with 2,897 athlete entries competing for 109 medal events in seven sports and 15 disciplines. The new events include Women’s Monobob; Freestyle Skiing Men and Women’s Freeski Big Air; Short Track Speed Skating Mixed Team Relay; Ski Jumping Mixed Team NH; Freestyle Skiing Mixed Team Aerials; and Mixed Team Snowboard Cross.

From the competition, 17 Olympic records were broken with two world records broken and 29 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) won medals. A total of 91 NOCs participated and one NOC, New Zealand, won its first Olympic Winter Games gold medals (Men’s Freeski Halfpipe and Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle).

Chinese athlete Gu Ailing competes during women’s freeski big air final at Big Air Shougang in Beijing. PHOTO: XINHUA

In term of gender equality, it is also the most gender-balanced Olympic Winter Games ever with 45 per cent women and 55 per cent men. It also had the highest-ever number of women’s events with 46 events.

The Beijing 2022 competition schedule built on key advances. Namely, seven disciplines have been moved to gender balanced for the first time: skeleton; luge (men’s and women’s singles); speed skating; cross-country skiing; alpine skiing; and freestyle skiing and snowboard reaching this milestone in Beijing, making for a total of 10 (out of 15) fully gender-balanced disciplines.

Forty five per cent out of the total number of flagbearers at the opening ceremony were women and 73 per cent of NOCs had a female flagbearer at the opening ceremony (either one female flagbearer or one male and one female flagbearer).

Meanwhile, 236 Olympic Solidarity individual scholarship-holders competed (138 men and 98 women) and 10 medals were won by individual scholarship-holders: three gold, two silver and five bronze, plus 35 diplomas.

Ninety-three NOCs received NOC Olympic Solidarity funding (80 through individual scholarships and 13 through tailor-made assistance). Three medals were won by teams who received Olympic Solidarity grants: one silver and two bronze plus two diplomas.

Sixty-five Beijing 2022 individual scholarship-holders (31 women and 34 men) were selected as the flagbearers for their NOC at the opening ceremony. Nineteen Beijing 2022 scholarship-holders (two women and 17 men) were selected as the flagbearers for their NOC at the closing ceremony.

In terms of achievement in digitisation, Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 had record numbers using Olympic web and app for a Winter Games edition, with over 64 million people reached during Beijing 2022.

The Olympics app was the number one sports app across over 20 territories. As of the end of February 19 (before the closing ceremony) there were 2.8 billion engagements across Olympic social handles during Beijing 2022. Unique viewers on the Olympics YouTube channel grew by 58 per cent driven by global collaboration with YouTube, including games highlights available in over 70 territories. There was growth of more than 10 million Olympic social media followers, particularly on youth-led platforms, surpassing 93 million across handles.

Innovative digital platform collaborations drove huge engagement, including 2.1 billion video views surpassed for the #OlympicSpirit hashtag on TikTok during Beijing 2022. There were 720,000 live views on the first Olympics Twitch stream, as well as 178 million views of Olympic archive GIFs on Google’s Tenor. Forty-seven million virtual cheers were sent by fans to their favourite teams on Olympics.com. By the end of 2021, more than 2,500 primary and secondary schools across China had included Olympic and Paralympic education, plus winter sports, in their curriculum. Since 2019, 200,000 children have learnt about the Olympic and Paralympic values in Beijing.

In terms of sustainability, Beijing 2022 is on track to being carbon-neutral Games. Five Beijing 2008 venues were reused, reducing construction and carbon emissions. All Beijing 2022 venues were powered by 100 per cent renewable energy – a first at the Olympic Games.

All new venues embraced new, green construction standards while natural CO2 refrigeration systems were used for the first time in China and at the Olympic Games – in four ice venues, reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption. 100 per cent of all passenger cars and 84.9 per cent of all vehicles were fuel efficient vehicles – hydrogen, electric, natural gas
and hybrid.

In addition, carbon compensation measures include afforestation projects in Beijing and Zhangjiakou. Since 2014, Beijing and Zhangjiakou have planted 47,333 and 33,000 hectares of forest and green areas respectively.