The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games that officially kicked off on Friday evening is not only a sports gala, but also marks China’s first major face-to-face diplomatic activity at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 30 international dignitaries including 17 state leaders traveled to Beijing to attend Friday’s opening ceremony at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest.
“The world is turning its eyes to China, and China is ready,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping in a video address to the opening ceremony of the 139th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session on Thursday.
On Friday night, President Xi declared the Games open, in front of about 40,000 home audience and a host of world leaders and heads of international organizations, including President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
On Saturday noon, one day after the opening ceremony, President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted a banquet in Beijing to welcome distinguished guests from afar and expressed China’s gratitude for their support.
Xi also met 19 visiting international dignitaries from Friday to Sunday.
Around 2,900 athletes from 91 countries and regions are competing in Beijing 2022, a demonstration that sport can lead the way in reuniting the world with the Olympic spirit.