Inspiration from Winter Olympics – Together for a Shared Future
Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang in America
21 February 2022
The flame of Beijing Winter Olympics has just been extinguished, marking the end of the 17-day Games. The Beijing Games have been streamlined, safe and splendid, and their success speaks volume.
Humanity is empowered by its fighting spirit. Every time an athlete breaks a record represents a new success in pushing the human limits, and these are surely the best moments of humanity. Fighting hard is not just about winning the game; it is more about winning out over oneself and pursuing excellence. American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, who won the first gold for Team USA in Beijing, had missed the top of the podium in Turin in 2006, but she persisted for 16 years to finally make up for what had been lost. Georgian athlete Saba Kumaritashvili competed in luge men’s singles to honor his cousin who had died in a training accident at Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. Italian luger Nina Zoggeler followed in the footsteps of her father, Armin Zoggeler, an Olympic luge champion, and competed in Beijing to extend her family glory.
The noises to politicize sport did not prevail, only to be outshone by the Olympic spirit. Athletes focused on competition on the field of play, and outside, they made friends and shared their real, firsthand experience of the Games. They did not, as prodded by some, play gamesmanship, but showed great sportsmanship. They did not break rules, but broke records one after another. Many American athletes shared with the world how much passion they felt and how touched they were there. A pair of curling players posted the gifts they received from Chinese athletes. One aerial skier hugged her Chinese competitor who won gold and told her how proud she was of her. A halfpipe skier marveled at the “stellar job” China has done on COVID-19, and said it was completely different from the false information he read from some media. A woman snowboarder was moved to tears by the hospitality and kindness she received in China, and found it so hard to part with her friends.
On this most viewed Winter Olympics, sportsmanship was also found in the audience. People want to see their home country win, but they also cheer for outstanding performances of other athletes, and feel sorry for those who stumble or fall, no matter which country they represent. At that moment, appreciation and support are what really matters. They outweigh all the biases and differences, and transcend any hatred or estrangement. That is the true meaning of sport.
To take a broader view, the legacy of Beijing Winter Olympics is not just about sport. It is about people. The Beijing Games are the first in history to be carbon neutral, and renewable energy was used in all venues, marking China’s latest effort for green development. Artificial intelligence, 5G, high-speed rail, cloud broadcasting, VR technology have not only brought about transformative experiences of the Games, but will also improve people’s daily life. Beijing Winter Olympics have engaged over 300 million Chinese in winter sports, which means new opportunities for the industry and people-to-people ties. Elements of Chinese culture are meticulously embedded in everything from sport venues to mascots Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon, winning thumbs-up from guests all over the world. They are the symbols of mutual learning between cultures, and they stand for our pursuit of making the world a community with a shared future.
I congratulate both Chinese and American athletes on their wonderful performances at the Games. But just as neither China nor the US has topped the medal tally, both countries have room for improvement in many areas, such as delivering a better life to the people, promoting social equity, and protecting the environment. We should both strive to be our better selves, and in this process, respect and support each other, compete fairly, and most importantly, advance together. Ailing (Eileen) Gu is so much loved not just for winning gold for Team China, but also because she is a perfect blend of the fine qualities of Chinese and Americans. If China and the US can each bring out its best, and make progress together, our world will definitely become a better place.
The Olympic spirit has offered us many things to learn. Let’s draw inspiration from it and go together for a shared future.