Winter Olympics approaches despite U.S. diplomatic boycott

Sylvia Dixon, Entertainment Editor

The Winter Olympics are set to take place between Feb. 4 and Feb. 20 in Beijing, China. This is the first time that the Winter Olympics have been held within a year of the Summer Games as a result of the pandemic. Some of the Winter Olympics sports are alpine skiing, snowboarding, curling, ski jumping, figure skating and ice hockey. In total, there are 15 sports total that the athletes will be competing in. 

In the previous Winter Olympics in 2018, the US won a total of 23 medals, placing fourth overall, which was disappointing after their second place finish in 2014.

One athlete to keep an eye out for is Alyssa Liu, a figure skater from Richmond, California. Liu was the national champion three years ago at just 13 years old. She will be 16 when she competes in the Olympics next year. According to Team USA, Liu has become well-known for her jumping ability, and could be the United States’ best hope for winning a figure skating medal. The US has not won a medal for figure skating since 2006.

Another athlete competing this year is Mikaela Shiffrin, an alpine skier from Colorado. Shiffrin won her first gold medal in 2014 at 18 years old for slalom (alpine skiing), becoming the youngest person ever to win gold for that event. In 2017, she became the first person in 78 years to win three consecutive slalom world titles. 

The US has some exciting prospective medal-winners for these Olympics. Chloe Kim and Dusty Henricksen are on Team USA and are considered two of the best snowboarders in the world. Kim is 21 years old and from Torrance, California. She won the gold medal for the Halfpipe event in 2018 and was the youngest person to do so. Henricksen is also from California (Mammoth Lakes) and is 18 years old. Both Kim and Henricksen competed in the X Games. Kim was the youngest person ever to win gold at the X Games (14 years old) and Henricksen was the first American man to win the X Games since Shaun White in 2009.   

While athletes are gearing up to compete, some human rights activists are attempting to convince countries to boycott the winter games this year. According to AP News, activists accused the International Olympic Committee of “granting legitimacy to rights abuses in China by allowing the Winter Games to go ahead in Beijing.”

This is in response to China’s treatment of Ugyhur Muslims in Xinjiang. China has been suspected of committing genocide and violating human rights. According to the Washington Post, the White House intends to have a diplomatic boycott, meaning that President Biden nor any US Government officials will be attending the games. 

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home. (But) we will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games.”