Beijing hosts a historic Olympic games. It will be the third consecutive Olympics played in East Asia (in 2018, it was the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea; last year, the Tokyo Games).
For 16 days starting last Friday and ending this Feb. 20, Beijing will host its first-ever Winter Olympics. Back in August 2008 — an event that my wife Jasmin and I witnessed in person for 10 days — the same city of Beijing hosted the Olympics.
Beijing becomes the only city in history to host both the Summer and Winter Games.
I checked the temperature in Beijing yesterday and it stood at 0 Celsius. It dips to -7C at night and “heats up” to 4C during midday. (During summer, it’s a hot 30C.)
The Beijing National Stadium was the venue for the Opening Ceremony two nights ago — the same venue China used in 2008. Jasmin and I had a chance to watch the athletics competition 12 years ago (when it was called “Bird’s Nest”) and the 80,000-seater complex is both stunning and humongous.
The Winter Olympics is much smaller than the Summer Games. In Tokyo last year, 206 nations and 11,656 athletes competed in 339 events. This week in Beijing, the Winter Games will involve only 91 nations and 2,875 athletes in 109 events.
Among the popular sports include Ice hockey, Figure skating, Ski jumping, Alping skiing, snowboarding and Cross-country skiing. Another event is Bobsleigh. If you watched the sports comedy film, “Cool Runnings,” a story of the Jamaican team joining the 1988 Winter Olympics, you’ll smile and understand Bobsleigh (or bobsled).
With the spectators, it appears that as many as 150,000 locals will be allowed to watch in a tightly-controlled environment involving strict Covid-19 tests and limited seating. Not all venues will have spectators.
With the athletes and coaches, similar to Tokyo, Beijing is implementing a closed loop system with daily testing.
For the Philippines, our choice of flag bearer was an easy choice (usually, the most accomplished athlete gets to carry the flag). It’s Asa Miller — because he’s the only representative of Team PHI.
In last Friday’s Opening, he was our lone athlete (carrying the flag) and was followed by four other officials, including POC President Bambol Tolentino. (It’s sad to note that figure skater Michael Martinez, the two-time Olympian, is recovering from injuries and won’t be competing.)
Asa Miller, only 21, will be competing in the Men’s slalom and Giant slalom events.
This is not Miller’s first trip to the capital city of China. In 2014, the then-14-year-old Miller was an exchange student.
“It feels great that it’s real now,” said Miller. “And it feels great to be in China again – the Olympic spirit and the culture all over the place, as well as the other athletes.. They’re very fun and motivating.”
To watch Asa Miller, whose event is on Feb. 13, and to witness the other “cool” athletes, coverage in the Phils. is available via Cignal TV (channels 198 and 298).