Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday night declared the 24th Olympic Winter Games open at the National Stadium in Beijing.
Xi made the declaration when attending the opening ceremony for the 2022 Winter Olympics the Bird’s Nest.
Also present at the ceremony were dozens 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.
The program of the opening ceremony was divided into 15 segments, including the parade of athletes and the lighting of the Olympic flame.
As the ceremony started, the lights dimmed and a 24-second countdown followed. The opening day of the Winter Olympics coincides with the first day of the 24 solar terms of the Chinese lunar calendar, namely the “Beginning of Spring”, with this concept used to count down the final seconds before the ceremony began.
The crowd inside the stadium cheered as fireworks exploded overhead and the colorful, cultural celebration got underway.
The national flag of China, passed into the venue by representatives from all walks of life in China, personnel who made outstanding contributions, and representatives of 56 ethnic groups,was raised at the opening ceremony to the sound of the national anthem.
As an Olympic tradition, Greece, which hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, was the first team to start the parade of athletes into the National Stadium.
China, as hosts, marched in last, while future Olympic Winter Games hosts Italy (Milano-Cortina 2026) were the penultimate team to enter under a change approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board in December 2019.
The rest of the athletes’ parade was set according to the complexity of the Chinese characters of their team names–from the ones written with the fewest strokes to the ones with the most. So Turkey was the first to come after Greece.
The teams were led by a placard bearer dressed in costumes with ice and snow patterns.
The placards, in the shape of a glowing snowflake with National/Regional Olympic Committee names on them, are inspired by the “Chinese knot,” which is an ancient Chinese craft of hand knitting, symbolizing solidarity and prosperity.
Acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who also oversaw the ceremonies at the 2008 Summer Olympics, has once again been made responsible for directing the opening and closing ceremonies of this year’s Winter Games.
Around 2,900 athletes will compete in 109 events across seven Olympic winter sports disciplines during the course of the Games, which will conclude on Feb. 20.
The Games motto is “Together for a Shared Future”, while organizers have also vowed to deliver a “simple, safe and splendid” Games for the world.