The Winter Olympics skate into Beijing

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The Winter Olympics skate into Beijing for the first time since 2008’s summer games in the same city. Beijing is the first city to hold both a summer games and winter games, but due to its mostly mild winter temperature a majority if not all of the snow at the games is man made. 

Athletes have reported poor conditions in equipment, food, housing, procedure and importantly venues. Athletes have complained about the man-made snow on the alpine events citing its almost ice-like qualities as dangerous. The Swedish Biathlon team also raised complaints about an alleged breach of IOC rules. The team claimed officials ignored guidelines and held a race at dangerously low temperatures. 

Politically speaking, Beijing’s games have been surrounded by controversy surrounding China’s multiple documented human rights atrocities. While we haven’t seen any complete boycotts of the games, we have seen multiple countries withhold their diplomatic delegations. One notable exception being Russian President Vladimir Putin who was in attendance at the opening ceremony. The symbolic move signified Russia’s involvement in the games after losing the ability to use their name and flag after the doping scandal. The Russian Olympic Committee currently leads the medal count at time of writing with seven medals. There are still numerous medals up for grabs going into next week though. Historically successful countries like Norway and the United States have stumbled out of the gate this year, but both nations have an opportunity to climb back into the podium given their past track records and current skill. One of those events still to come is Men’s Singles figure skating, where fan favorite Nathan Chen looks to gather his second medal this Olympics. Chen has already made history at this Olympics when he scored a world record breaking short program run. Performances like Chen’s are what makes these games special for millions worldwide, but with the games inevitably comes conflict. These games clearly have conflict in abundance because of the IOC’s policies regarding choice of host countries and lack luster guidelines for athletes treatment. While it is hard to overlook the situation in Beijing, remember to enjoy watching these athletes reach for the highest bar on the world’s largest stage.