With unusual and controversial lighting of the Olympic flame, the 2022 Winter Olympics are officially underway in Beijing.
The cauldron, an unusually small design set within a giant snowflake, was ignited by Chinese skiers Dinigeer Yilamujiang and Zhao Jiawen, who shared a torch to light the Olympic flame in a nod to gender equality.
More controversially, Yilamujiang was identified by Chinese state media as a member of the Uyghur community, a move identified by numerous Western media sources as an intentional rebuke of the U.S. and other Western nations for condemning China’s treatment of that majority Muslim community as “genocide.”
Human rights abuses against the Uyghurs have resulted in controversy surrounding China acting as the hosting nation for this year’s Olympics, leading President Joe Biden and other western leaders to boycott the Beijing Olympics as an act of protest.
However, President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Kahn and the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) attended. Prime Minister Kahn and President Putin enthusiastically expressed their support of China.
Friday’s events included alpine skiing, curling, ice hockey, figure skating, luge and ski jumping. Aside from the opening ceremonies, the day’s highlights included 22 year-old American skater Nathan Chen scoring his personal best of 111.17 in the figure skating team event in the men’s short program, earning ten points and putting the U.S. in the lead. Chen’s teammates, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, also won the ice dance rhythm dance.
Another highlight was when the German figure skating team, Tim Dieck and Katharina Mueller, dressed as Harley Quinn and the Joker during their rhythm dancing event. The duo scored 63.21, the lowest score in the ten-team event.
“The duo’s compatriots Minerva Hase and Nolan Seegert, Germany’s representatives in the pairs portion of the team event, withdrew from the team event after Seegert tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. As a result, Germany will almost certainly not progress to the team event final and Mueller and Dieck’s crime spree will be confined to the qualification round,” reported NBC Olympics.
On a sadder note, 22 year-old Japanese snowboarder Rina Yoshika suffered a spinal injury after a major crash while training for the Beijing Olympics. Yoshika fell hard after misfiring on a jump during a practice session. The snowboarding events are set to begin today. Medical personnel immediately were at her side and it took them about 20 minutes to stabilize her and put her on a sled to take her down the hill. Yoshika was entering the Olympics ranked number 12 in the world. Officials told Fox that Yoshika is not paralyzed and will return home after receiving treatment.