The Beijing Winter Games will officially get under way on Friday 4 February 2022 with the traditional opening ceremony featuring music, song, dance, and fireworks, to be highlighted by an unprecedented cauldron-lighting that promises to be historic and innovative.
The event, to be held at the National Stadium (also known as the Bird’s Nest), will mark Beijing’s entry into Olympic history as the only city to host both the Summer and the Winter Games.
Follow the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics live with us right here at AS USA.
2022 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony: when and where?
The opening ceremony for the 2022 Winter Olympics will take place on 4 February, with the festivities kicking off at 6:30 a.m. ET / 3:30 a.m. PT.
It will be held at Beijing National Stadium, which will also be the site of the closing ceremony, although it will not be a venue for any sporting events.
How to watch the 2022 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony on television?
US viewers who are willing to wake up early (or stay up late) to watch the full-day coverage of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies can catch it live on NBC, USA Network, or the Olympic Channel at 6:30 a.m. ET / 3:30 a.m. PT.
For those who are unable to watch the live event, NBC will also broadcast on primetime with an enhanced presentation focusing on Team USA a little later at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
NBC will also air a replay at 12:38 a.m. ET on 5 February / 9:38 p.m. PT on 4 February.
How to watch the opening ceremony online?
Premium subscribers to NBC’s online streaming service, Peacock, can catch the ceremony live, while NBCOlympics.com will also live stream the event.
Summer 2008 vs Winter 2022
This year’s opening ceremony, though expected to be an impressive spectacle, will be a far cry from the 2008 festivities, which director Steven Spielberg had described as “the grandest spectacle of the new millennium.” It was attended by an audience of more than 90,000, including US President George W. Bush. The Summer Olympics in Beijing served to introduce China as a global superpower.
The mood this year is very different. Hovering over this year’s Games is the dark cloud that is the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics announced by the US and some of its allies as a form of protest against China’s human rights record.
Athletes have been warned against speaking up on the issue while they are participating in the Games, and are instead encouraged to voice their opinions when they are back in their respective countries.
Winter Games opening ceremony: a ‘simple’ event
The organizers have assured the world that Beijing would deliver a “simple, safe, and splendid” Winter Games, and this is expected to be apparent in the Opening Ceremonies. Famed Chinese Zhang Yimou will once again direct the ceremony this year, and he promises an innovative Olympic flame-lighting that will be environmentally friendly with low carbon emissions.
Compared to 2008’s runtime of over four hours, 2022 will be much shorter, running less than 100 minutes. The event will have 3,000 performers, a mere fifth of the 15,000 in 2008.
Zhang says that the ceremony’s theme is in line with the changing times, and will provide a new vision in recognition of the pandemic that the whole world is facing.
Opening ceremony marching order
The order of the athletes’ entry into the stadium will be in accordance with Olympic tradition. The Greek team, as they have since 1928, will enter first as the pioneer of the Games. The host country, in this case China, will come last. Italy, which will host the Winter Olympics in 2026, will parade before China.
According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the rest of the countries will parade in alphabetical order, based on the host country’s language.
The order of the countries is based on their names as written in simplified Chinese characters, much like they are written in Chinese dictionaries.
Taiwan had earlier said they would boycott the opening ceremonies, but will now participate as they were told by the IOC that they were required to do so. The Games are taking place amid increased tensions between China and Taiwan.
Just like in the Tokyo Summer Games, countries have the option to have two flag bearers representing both genders. This development is part of the IOC’s efforts to promote gender equality.
Opening ceremony: safety restrictions
The shorter duration of the parade has taken into account both the cold weather and the pandemic.
This year, as a consequence of the ongoing global pandemic, not many people will witness the Winter Games opening ceremony live. The organizing committee announced that tickets would not be sold to local viewers after Beijing reported its first case of the Omicron covid-19 variant. They will instead be given out to particular groups who will be asked to comply with strict covid-19 measures for the duration of the event.
There will also be no foreign fans in the stadium, as Beijing has followed Tokyo’s lead in banning foreigners from buying tickets to the Games. This is the second Olympic Games which will not see any international viewers in person due to the pandemic.
China has a ‘zero covid’ policy which they will strictly enforce. Olympic participants and media are required to wear masks at all times, except when competing, eating, or drinking. Beijing also has the MY2022 app, specifically created for the Olympics, which will monitor the health of participants and the press daily. They will also employ a ‘closed loop’ system which severely limits contact between groups of people
Who are the US flag bearers?
Team USA will be led by its flag bearers Brittany Bowe who will compete in speed skating, and John Shuster, who will be seeking a medal in curling.
The US team will be the 56th country to march, and they will do it in style.
Just like in the Tokyo Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, Ralph Lauren will be outfitting the US Team. Team USA uniforms will feature some new heating technology. The jackets will have a honeycomb-like layer that responds to temperature changes with no need for a battery.
Women athletes will march wearing red boots and red fleece pants and mainly blue jackets, while the men’s uniforms will be predominantly white.