It’s time! The 2022 Beijing Olympics are in full swing, officially kicking off on February 4, just six months after the Tokyo Games concluded.
The Winter Games and Summer Games are traditionally separated by two years — with the summer Olympics taking place every four years. However, things are different for the 2022 games based on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
After the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were pushed back one year, the winter version of the world-wide sporting event had its quickest turnaround in history. The 2022 competition marked the Olympics return to Beijing for the first time in almost 14 years. The city previously hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Ahead of the athletic competition, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) revealed the mascot for Beijing’s games — a panda named Bing Dwen Dwen.
“‘Bing’ means ice and also symbolizes purity and strength,” the committee said in a press release in February 2019. “And ‘Dwen Dwen’ represents children. The mascot embodies the strength and willpower of athletes and will help to promote the Olympic spirit.”
While the Olympic trials didn’t take place until shortly before the Games began, there were a few U.S. athletes that caught fans’ attention early on.
For starters, gold medalist Chloe Kim was set to return to the slopes and compete in snowboarding after earning her first medal at age 17 the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Despite taking a break from the sport in 2019 — to attend Princeton University — she has been working on the snowboarding circuit since January 2021.
“I’m so, so happy and grateful that I’ve been able to come back and compete again against all of these amazing, talented, hardworking women,” Kim told CNN in February 2021. “It was nice to kind of get out and start competing again.”
The California native took a leave of absence from college in order to focus on her training. “There’s no way I can handle going to school while being a professional snowboarder, especially before the Olympics,” she explained. “I plan on going back, but right now, I’m a full-time snowboarder and one day I’ll be back to being a full-time student. But, yeah, I don’t think I can juggle it.”
Gus Kenworthy, who won a silver medal for Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, is now competing for a different country — Team Great Britain.
“I am very excited to announce that I will be competing for Team GB on the road to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing,” he announced via social media in December 2019. “Although I was raised in the U.S. I was born in the U.K. and my mum is British through-and-through. She has been my #1 fan for my entire life and has proudly stood at the bottom of the mountain waving the stars and stripes in support of me for two Olympic cycles. Now, in what is sure to be my last Olympic appearance, I’d like to return the honor by proudly holding up the British flag for her.”
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