The 2022 Olympics is just around the corner! While the opening ceremony isn’t until February 4th, the games open on the early morning of the 2nd with a set of matches for mixed doubles curling (including a game with the U.S. against Australia). It will start with 18 straight days of action ending on the 20th with the women’s 30km cross-country skiing final and the closing ceremony. While there is some controversy surrounding the games, and of course complications created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it will still be a great chance to watch some of the greatest athletes from around the world compete on the biggest sports stage.
There will be several new event additions to these Olympics, pushing the total number of medal events up to 109. Two of those medals will come from the newly added ski big air competition, which will have medals awarded for both men and women. Four new events will be mixed team events. This includes the mixed team snowboard cross, ariels (skiing), short track relay, and ski jumping. There will also be a new event with only a women’s competition: the monobob, which will be making its debut in the Olympics.
Making her debut this year, the youngest competitor will be Kamila Valieva from Russia, competing in women’s figure skating. The 15-year old is the favorite for the gold medal, having recently broken her own world record heading into Beijing. Also in that competition will be 16-year old Alysa Liu, the youngest member of team USA (and the second-youngest Olympian in the games). As the highest ranked U.S. figure skater this season, you can expect a performance out of her as well. On the other hand, the oldest competitor in the Olympics will be German speed skater Claudia Pechstein, who is coming to her eighth Olympics and has already won 5 gold medals so far in her career.
Of course with omicron’s continued spread, the Olympics will again look a little different than usual. For the second games in a row there will be no spectators present at events and in addition to various other safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, organizers acknowledge that it is likely there will be some positive cases. For all of those involved in the games there will be daily PCR tests, strict quarantine rules, as well as their own nation’s guidelines. Due to the devastating consequences of an athlete testing positive, there is definitely an incentive for each and every person involved to limit their exposure as much as possible.
The U.S. and several other countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania are participating in diplomatic boycotts. These boycotts, which are on account of human rights violations by the Chinese government, will not prevent any athletes from those countries from competing. Even with the controversy and the threat of COVID-19, hopefully these Olympics will still live up to the Olympics of the past and provide a great couple weeks of sporting spectacle and world-class competition.