Members of Team USA wave during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 4, 2022 in Beijing.
BEIJING — It is an auspicious week in China’s capital city. New beginnings are top of mind as locals welcomed the Year of the Tiger on Tuesday and then threw a party for the rest of the world to officially open the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Friday.
Both celebrations were held against admittedly difficult backdrops. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect daily life in China, as it does around the globe, and threatened to derail these Games as it has so much else. But instead, the Games arrived on time and wrapped in a colorful tapestry of ice and fire.
“I’m just so excited we are all here,” said Susanne Lyons, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee board chair and president, ahead of the ceremony Friday. “I don’t know if all of us really thought this day would come but Opening Ceremonies is upon us. We have athletes from all over the world incredibly excited and finally feeling relieved to know that they are on the ground and able to do what they do best.”
Held in Beijing’s famed National Stadium — which became known to the world during the 2008 Games as the Bird’s Nest and is now the first stadium to host the Opening Ceremony for both a Summer and Winter Games — the 2022 Opening Ceremony was built around the central concept of “The Story of a Snowflake.” Directed again by Zhang Yimou, architect of the memorable 2008 ceremony, the production honored Chinese history and culture while exemplifying the Games’ motto of “Together for a Shared Future.”
Playing out across a nearly 125,000 square feet of HD LED “ice sheet” on the stadium floor, the story begins with the beginning of spring, which first arrives with still freezing temperatures that Chinese people believe can breed new life. Snowflakes were a dominant motif of the ceremony, in subtle ways such as snowflake-shaped placards for the 91 national delegations that marched into the stadium.