Xinhua Commentary: Beijing Winter Games a victory for humanity

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BEIJING, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- The wait is finally over. Some 2,380 days after being selected as the host city, Beijing has at last raised the curtain on the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

The event is expected to bring together 2,900 athletes from 91 countries and regions to vie for 109 gold medals, a record in the 98-year history of the Winter Olympics.

The competitors' list includes giant slalom skiers Fayik Abdi, from Saudi Arabia, and Richardson Viano, from Haiti, marking the first time that either country has been represented at the Winter Games.

Apart from the sporting participants, thousands of coaches, support staff, media and spectators will be welcomed to China's capital over the next 16 days.

In addition, the 24th edition of the event will be broadcast to billions of people around the world via an extensive list of rights-holding broadcasters.

Even the harshest critics have been proven wrong by China's ability to successfully organize and host these Games.

During the bidding stage, some commentators expressed doubts over pollution, claiming high levels of carbon dioxide could pose a risk to athletes' health.

Those fears have disappeared as the city enjoys clear skies and excellent air quality levels.

Officials have said these Games will be entirely carbon-neutral -- the result of efforts to prioritize sustainability and eco-friendly technology.

In an Olympic Games first, renewable energy will be used to power all competition venues.

Beijing 2022 also features natural CO2 refrigeration systems for ice venues, fleets of clean energy vehicles and facilities that meet international standards for efficient use of water, energy and materials.

Through careful planning, China has been able to use its Games budget in a most efficient and effective way, including the utilization of venues built for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, such as the Bird's Nest National Stadium.

Concerns about a lack of snowfall have been overcome thanks to the use of snow-making machines that have ensured competition venues are ready for a hectic event schedule.

The greatest challenge has been to stage the Games in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many sporting events have been postponed or canceled over the past two years, Beijing 2022 has never been in doubt. Despite the hurdles, China has fully delivered its bid commitments and it is a measure of the country's organizational capacity that these Games will begin on time and within budget.

This sporting celebration is also a victory for humanity, underlining two of the Olympic movement's core principles: friendship and respect.

The athletes come despite calls for a so-called diplomatic boycott from some Western politicians.

More than 30 state leaders, members of the royal family and heads of international organizations, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, were among the dignitaries attending the opening ceremony at the Bird's Nest on Friday.

The gathering of athletes from so many countries and regions -- and the presence of their political leaders -- demonstrates the failure of attempts to politicize sport.

And it exemplifies why the Olympics are so special. Enditem

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