2022 Winter Olympics kicks off with promising athletes amid Chinese government controversy

John Williamson, Staff Writer

The stage is set for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and athletes are preparing to take part in one of the biggest competitions for winter sports. Here are some of the highlights for the upcoming games.

Shaun White is one of the biggest names in snowboarding both at home and abroad. Dominating the scene for almost his entire life, White has been competing in professional competitions since age 13  and has an impressive list o

f achievements to go along with his 22 years of competing. White has received gold at the X Games 12 times, seven of those medals being consecutive back to back wins. White also has an impressive Olympic tracklist, competing four times and earning three gold medals.  This year will be White’s last Olympic games, and he aims to add one more achievement to his list, acquiring a final gold medal.

“I’m not, like, going to just hand it over, I’m not going to walk away,” White said to the Washington Post regarding his final Olympics. “I’m going to give it everything I have at this Olympics. It’s my title to defend.”

White’s persistence and talent has acquired him a large fan base.

“I really admire White for the way he lives his life and how well known and respected he is in the snowboarding world,” Holden Smith (’25), an avid snowboarder, said. “I look back to 2018 when he took a fall on the half pipe slapping his face. It was just inspirational how he came back so fast and won gold[…]. I hope White takes gold in this Olympics, and I really encourage everyone to watch him compete alongside the USA team.”

As for Chloe Kim, the 21 year old superstar, this year’s Winter Olympics is about defending gold with her newfound fame. Kim won gold at  Pyeongchang in 2018 as a 17 year old, an impressive achievement for any snowboarder.

Figure skater Nathan Chen aims to win his second gold medal and face off against one of Japan’s strongest competitors, Yuzuru Hanyu. As for the women skaters, Alyssa Liu is competing in her first ever Olympics at 16 years old, joined by Karen Chen and Mariah Bell. Both Chen and Bell are veteraned skaters while Bell is making her Olympic debut.

David Wise aims to defend his two time gold medal record. He is the only freestyle skier to hold that title, and aims to continue dominating the halfpipe in this year’s Olympics.

The Olympics are not without controversy. Backlash towards the Chinese Government treatment of Uyghur Muslims has caused a mix of emotions.

Chinese Government officials have also issued a warning to those who attempt to make any type of political protest against the government, which will be met with harsh consequences. The Washington Post reports that while the Chinese Olympic committee does support sport related speech, any “behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against the Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment.” While the International Olympic Committee agrees that any protests should not be allowed as stated in rule 50, this includes demonstrations of political, religious or racial propaganda at Olympic venues. However, China aims to interpret and enforce this rule much harsher than most countries, stating that speech falls under propaganda and is subject to punishment.