Beijing officially opens Winter Olympics amid pandemic

The Associated Press
Athletes from Japan arrive during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics on Friday in Beijing.

Six months after the delayed Tokyo Olympics came to an end, the Beijing Winter Olympics officially began with the opening ceremony at Beijing National Stadium, more commonly referred to as the Bird’s Nest, on Friday night.

The Games are being held under extremely strict coronavirus protocols, with all of the thousands of athletes, officials, media and volunteers operating in a contained “close loop” bubble with all outside contact prohibited.

Japan has sent a delegation of 124 athletes, the most for the nation to an overseas Winter Olympics, in a quest to exceed the 13 medals won at the previous Games in Pyeongchang in 2018.

Japan’s top gold medal hopes are in figure skating, speed skating, snowboarding, ski jumping and moguls.

Drawing the most attention will be Yuzuru Hanyu, who will be aiming for a third consecutive Olympic men’s title in figure skating as he attempts to become the first in history to complete a quadruple axel jump in competition.