Amid pandemic & protest, Olympics return to a changed China
Financial Express Mumbai|January 29, 2022
THE BEIJING WINTER Olympics kick off in a week, putting sports at centre-stage following preparations that have been clouded by diplomatic boycotts and the Covid19 pandemic that has forced the Games into a tightly sealed bubble.

Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, and some venues from 2008 will be reused, including the Bird's Nest stadium, where the opening ceremony will again be overseen by famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou.

Almost everything else is different.

Where the 2008 Summer Games dazzled in what was a rising China's arrival on the world stage, the Winter Olympics will be staged by a country that has grown far wealthier, more powerful, and, under President Xi Jinping, more authoritarian and increasingly at odds with the West.

In the Covid-19 era, China has isolated itself with a zero-tolerance policy, canceling nearly all international flights, meaning Olympic athletes and others must fly directly into a Games bubble on charters.

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