I am certain that the vast majority reading this article can fondly recall watching Usain Bolt at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics as he bolted across the finish line of the 100 metre (in 9.69 seconds) and the 200m men’s final races to break both world records at the time.
Our recollection of the exact details might be sketchy, but what is undeniable is that we all remember how it made us feel – seeing this colossal man do what no other had done, epitomising the best among us. This was all happening in real-time, in our lifetime.
It comes as no surprise that when Beijing was elected as host city – in July, 2015, at the 128th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur – there was and still is a very high expectation it will be of a quality better than what we have ever seen before.
This would make Beijing the first city in history to host both the Summer and the Winter Olympics, and will, like the last time, undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on all of us.
The 2022 Winter Olympics will be the first Winter Olympics in China, the last of three consecutive Olympics to be held in East Asia (after the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan), and the second overall Olympics to be held in China, after the 2008 Summer Olympics, also in Beijing.
The Olympic Games have always been a testament to the enduring nature of the human spirit, and have served as a reminder that anything is possible if we are focused and relentless as a people. The Olympics have in the past given us moments of hope, passion, commitment, love and the triumph of the human spirit.
Earlier this year, before the Tokyo Olympic Games began, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved adding the word "Together“ into the Olympic motto, making it the first time that the slogan has been updated in over a century.
This update of the Olympic motto sends out a clear signal to the entire Olympic family – at a time when the world is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic – that “everyone needs to stick together”.
The Games are meant to be a healthy competition of the best athletes in the world, who are constantly testing themselves and their limits and in the process giving us a show to marvel at. The Games are not meant to be platforms for political posturing and petty political chess.
The current political posturing, predominantly by the US, has the potential to divert us from the cutting-edge innovations that will be on show. These include the fact that China has built the world’s first 500kV Zhangbei flexible DC power grid, making the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics the first Olympic Games that uses green and clean electric energy.
Beijing has become the first host city of the Winter Olympic Games to use the most environmentally friendly ice-making technology on a large scale.
The Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-Speed Railway has become the world's first intelligent high-speed railway, with a speed of 350km/h.
Millimetre-wave 5G will be used for live broadcast of the events, making it the first Winter Olympics with a large-scale smart 5G technology application.
The Beijing Winter Olympics will combine low-carbon and environmental innovation with the Olympic spirit, usher in an extraordinary green and high-tech Winter Olympics, and start a new era of global winter sports.
Though some may have waned in their historical understanding of the real essence of the games – "political neutrality" and "autonomy of sport“ are clarified in the Olympic Charter’s codification of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism – the action or intention of confounding sports and politics should not be given space.
The Olympic Charter further states that the Olympic spirit requires mutual understanding, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The Olympic Games, in upholding this spirit, symbolise solidarity and friendship, and have long served as a useful platform for cultural exchanges and mutual learning among different nations. It comes as a breath of fresh air that the recently-held 10th Olympic Summit once again underscored the neutrality of sports by standing firmly against any politicisation of the Olympic Games and sport, and strongly emphasising the need for the political neutrality of the IOC, the Olympic Games and the entire Olympic Movement.
The games are meant to represent what is best in us as a people, and build on the spirit of togetherness and hope. At these difficult times, we are meant to be working towards the success of these Games, not only because they will represent, more poignantly, the return to relative normalcy that many among us are yearning for, but because they are a universal symbol of hope.
In the tough times that many have been experiencing, the sprinkle of hope that will come from witnessing the amazing acts of the Olympics will have a huge impact, reigniting the human spirit that has been dulled by the current pandemic.
"Solidarity fuels our mission to make the world a better place through sport“ - IOC President Thomas Bach