Winter Olympics Open between walls, masks and clouds of disinfectant

There are bound to be miracles, because there is always an Olympic Games. Someone – maybe someone you’ve never heard of – will be stunned with speed or grace or ferocity or ferocity.

But there is a certain sadness to the Beijing Winter Olympics, which officially open on Friday. Whether political or policy or pandemic, the Olympics have become so subdued in the very city that, in 2008, transformed them into a spectacle of wonder, full of ambition and conformity.

Thousands of visitors from all over the world have flocked to China’s vast capital and into the surrounding mountains, daily passing through the city center with no way to touch, taste or compare. work with it. Beijingers watched their Olympic guests through the towering fence that surrounded every venue and through the glass doors of the private buses that shuttled them from place to place.

For the second time in a year, the Olympics will serve as primarily a stage for sports: dynamic, emotional and exciting inside ropes, where viewers are locked in a world far away, watched by sparse crowds in near-silent stands. Such was the case with the inaugural women’s hockey game on Thursday, at least, when a handpicked group of spectators were invited to watch Canada and Switzerland play. They don’t clap. They were not cheering. Many people, it seems, don’t always follow the nudges.

The so-called bubble, a small city-sized area around the Olympic buildings, is designed to harbor a deadly pathogen, one that can keep all but selected spectators away . There are loud protests and fears about how a proud, defiant China might face them. There is a stark scene of barbed wire and disinfectant fog, and of a city disconnected from another precious turn on the world stage. There is a mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen, but exactly how the giant panda is there to entertain isn’t always clear.

Maybe that will change on Saturday. The first medals will arrive later this week. The Olympics, whatever they will be, are here.

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