|Hosts: Beijing, China Dates: 4-20 February
|Coverage: Watch dwell on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and on-line; pay attention on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds; dwell textual content and highlights on BBC Sport web site and cell app
After a troubled and controversial build-up, the 2022 Winter Olympics are about to get beneath method in Beijing.
Almost 3,000 athletes from 91 nations will compete to get their palms on one in every of 109 gold medals on provide throughout seven sports activities.
Although dwell sport began on Wednesday with combined doubles curling, the opening ceremony takes place on Friday, marking the official begin of the twenty fourth Winter Games.
“The world is popping its eyes to China and China is prepared. We will do our greatest to ship to the world a streamlined, secure and splendid Games,” Chinese President Xi Jinping stated on Thursday.
But these are already controversial Olympics, with protests and diplomatic boycotts over alleged human rights abuses, whereas the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have an effect with strict management measures in place.
Here’s every little thing you need to know.
The info of Beijing
Beijing is the primary metropolis to host each the summer season and winter Games, 14 years after it hosted the 2008 summer season Olympics.
The occasion takes place throughout three clusters. Beijing itself will host the indoor occasions – curling, pace skating, determine skating and ice hockey – in addition to the large air and the opening and shutting ceremonies.
Yanqing, situated 75km (47 miles) out of Beijing, is the house of the sliding sports activities – bobsleigh, skeleton and luge – and alpine snowboarding, whereas the mountains of Zhangjiakou, 180km (111 miles) away from the Chinese capital, host the freestyle snowboarding and snowboarding occasions, ski leaping, biathlon and cross-country.
Many of the venues in Beijing from the 2008 Games have been repurposed, together with swimming’s Water Cube, which has been renovated to turn into the house of curling, and the Bird’s Nest stadium, which is able to host the opening and shutting ceremonies.
Artificial snow has been used throughout all venues – though there was some pure snowfall in Zhangjiakou within the week main up to the Games. It is estimated that 49m gallons (222.8m litres) of water have been used to produce the faux snow in Yanqing alone.
But that is not a priority for GB’s athletes, with snowboarder Katie Ormerod telling BBC Sport: “I grew up within the UK so it is all synthetic snow.”
How will Team GB fare?
Fifty athletes will fly the flag for Team GB in Beijing, with three returning medallists – Izzy Atkin (freestyle snowboarding), Laura Deas (skeleton) and Eve Muirhead (curling) – amongst them. And the 2014 ski slopestyle silver medallist Gus Kenworthy can be competing for Britain, after switching from the United States.
Muirhead, Dave Ryding (alpine snowboarding), Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young (each cross-country snowboarding) are set to compete at their fourth Olympics, whereas 29 athletes will make their debuts.
There are three units of siblings within the crew – Izzy and Zoe Atkin, and Leonie and Makayla Gerken Schofield, will compete in freestyle snowboarding, whereas brothers Farrell and Niall Treacy race within the brief monitor pace skating.
Snowboard cross world champion Charlotte Bankes is a favorite for gold in her occasion, in what will likely be her third Games general however first for Team GB, having switched from France in late 2018.
UK Sport believes Team GB can win between three and 7 medals in Beijing, with 5 the crew’s earlier finest in each 2014 and 2018.
Nielsen Gracenote predicts three will likely be received, with golds for Bankes and the combined curling duo of Bruce Mouat and Jen Dodds, whereas the lads’s curling rink are predicted to win silver.
“We are assured we’re taking a extra aggressive crew throughout extra disciplines than ever earlier than. That’s a terrific place to be in,” chef de mission Georgina Harland instructed BBC Sport.
“What’s nice is we’re assured there will likely be curiosity throughout these full 16 days of competitors, so one thing for everyone again dwelling to get behind.
What about the remainder of the world?
The United States have despatched a 224-strong crew to Beijing, making them the largest squad on the Games, whereas 17 nations have despatched only one athlete, together with India and Ecuador.
Norway, who topped the medal desk 4 years in the past in Pyeongchang, are once more anticipated to dominate the cross-country snowboarding occasions and also will hope for alpine snowboarding success via Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who’s favorite within the super-G.
He can be tipped to problem Switzerland’s Beat Feuz within the blue riband males’s downhill, whereas the Norwegian’s American girlfriend Mikaela Shiffrin wants another gold to set a file for essentially the most Olympic wins by an American alpine skier. She has a superb probability as she is aiming to compete in all 5 ladies’s particular person occasions.
Veteran American snowboarder Shaun White is again for a fifth Games, whereas 49-year-old German pace skater Claudia Pechstein will likely be competing at her eighth. At the other finish of the size, 15-year-old Russian Kamila Valieva is the new favorite for gold within the ladies’s determine skating.
Valieva is among the 212 athletes competing beneath the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee, with Russia nonetheless banned from worldwide competitors due to doping sanctions.
In determine skating Japan’s Hanyu Yuzuru is about to try to turn into the primary individual to land a quadruple axel in competitors as he seeks a 3rd males’s title in a row in what guarantees to be an intriguing duel with American Nathan Chen.
China will likely be aiming for a superb displaying at their dwelling Games, with freestyle skier Eileen Gu main their hopes in three occasions for a rustic whose finest winter Olympics displaying is 11 medals at Vancouver 2010.
Two international locations are making their Winter Olympics debuts – Haiti and Saudi Arabia – each in alpine snowboarding.
Covid-19 and controversies
Beijing 2022 is the second Olympics to happen through the Covid-19 pandemic, and identical to in Tokyo final summer season, there will likely be no paying spectators, associates or household current within the stands.
All Games contributors, from athletes to volunteers to the media, bear every day PCR assessments and are enclosed in a strict closed-loop system during which motion is proscribed for the whole thing of the Olympics.
Face masks are necessary always, apart from throughout competitors and coaching, and when consuming and consuming, or alone in rooms.
But Covid is not the one shadow looming over these Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been closely criticised for awarding the Olympics to China due to the nation’s alleged human rights abuses.
Human rights teams say the Chinese authorities has steadily stripped away the non secular and different freedoms of Uighur Muslims – a minority group which lives largely within the Xinjiang province in north-west China – culminating in an oppressive system of mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination, and even compelled sterilisation.
China has persistently denied allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, insisting camps weren’t detention camps, however “vocational academic and coaching centres”.
As a consequence, many international locations, together with the UK, United States and Canada, have declared a diplomatic boycott of the Games.
IOC president Thomas Bach has repeatedly defended the choice to award the Winter Olympics to Beijing and on Thursday stated that within the two years main up to the Games he had seen “the darkish clouds of the rising politicisation of sport on the horizon”.
“We additionally noticed that in some peoples’ minds the boycott ghosts of the previous have been rearing their ugly heads once more,” Bach stated.