Highlights from the 2022 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony

February 4, 2022, 9:06 a.m. ET

Credit…James Hill for The New York Times

President Vladimir V. Putin was there, rising from his seat and saluting the Russian team as they entered the Bird’s Nest. So did the leaders of the five Central Asian nations that were once part of the Soviet Union. Leaders from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates came, although they are hardly known for winter sports. Pakistani leader Prime Minister Imran Kahn announced his presence on Twitter with a dramatic speech, masked photo of himself and the words “Visit China”.

President Biden and other Western leaders have said they will boycott the Beijing Games to protest human rights abuses in the country, but China managed to gather enough people for the opening ceremony. opening Friday to assert that the “diplomatic boycott” had been a failure.

Leaders from 22 nations attended, along with leaders from several international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Health Organization, according to a list released by China’s Foreign Ministry.

That was more, Chinese officials noted, than the 15 who attended the opening of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo last year, but far fewer than the 80 who traveled to Beijing for the Games in Tokyo. 2008.

“The United States is doing everything possible to block the Winter Olympics, but they just want to come to Beijing to support them! said a comment triumphantly posted by state broadcaster CCTV.

Beijing Olympics Postcard

Our exiled correspondent returns to China.

The competing lists of world leaders present and those who did not reflect some of the geopolitical divisions that have taken shape amid a deepening confrontation between the United States and China.

Although White House officials have said Biden is not organizing a broader boycott, several other Western countries have said they will not send official delegations either. The group included Britain, Canada, Australia and Japan. Other countries also declined to send officials, although they cited pandemic health restrictions.

Those inside Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium on Friday night included not only China’s closest allies, including Russia and Pakistan, but others who have recently found themselves dependent on economic or geopolitical ties. with China.

Scott Kennedy, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that all of those who declined to attend were democracies. Those who arrived for Friday’s festivities scored far below the political freedoms rankings by the advocacy group Freedom House. “As the camera pans across the opening ceremony showing who shares the stage with Xi Jinping, and who doesn’t, the message will be clear to all,” he wrote in a comment on the wire.

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