2022 Winter Olympics preview: What you need to know

American Snowboarder Sean White celebrates after taking 1st place in the Mens Halfpipe Finals on February 14th, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

Photo by Laurent Salino/Getty Images

American Snowboarder Sean White celebrates after taking 1st place in the Men’s Halfpipe Finals on February 14th, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

Amidst COVID-19 and controversy, the 24th Olympic Winter Games will begin on Feb. 3, 2022 in Beijing, China. The games will bring together a wide variety of nations and cultures to compete in 109 events across 15 sports.

The Winter Games don’t start for a few weeks but it’s already clear that the Olympics this year will be fairly different compared to Olympic games of years past. The US, alongside seven other countries, have elected to go forward with a diplomatic boycott of this year’s games. Athletes from these boycotting countries will still be permitted to participate in the games, however, these countries will not send delegates to the games in protest of the Chinese government’s mistreatment of ethnic and religious minority groups.

“I definitely think there’s something to be said about what China’s government is doing at the moment, they are allegedly committing genocide,” Lincoln East High School senior Samuel Bundy said. “Numerous countries boycotting is definitely a good way to protest what they’re doing.”

Additionally, COVID-19 will have an effect on spectators at the games. Only healthy Chinese citizens will be allowed to spectate at this year’s Olympics. Despite COVID-19 restrictions and high tensions, the games should be exciting.

American snowboarding legend and three-time Olympic gold medalist, Shaun White, is set to compete in his fifth, and likely last, Olympic Games. When appearing on The Today Show in December, White said, “This is, I think, my last run.”

Also in snowboarding, young American prodigy and gold medal winner in the 2018 Men’s Slopestyle competition, Red Gerard, will look to repeat as champion, this time, as a perennial favorite. Another American to watch for is Nathan Chen, a figure skater, who took home a bronze medal in the 2018 games.

In Alpine Skiing, American Mikaela Shiffrin is looking to take home her 3rd straight gold medal, after winning at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018. Shiffrin, who faced uncertainty regarding her health status after testing positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago, has since recovered from the virus and feels confident that she will remain healthy leading up to the games.

“Honestly, I should be one of the safest people now,” Shiffrin said to Bill Pennington of The New York Times. “But I’m not taking any chances. I’ve been wearing my mask everywhere. Like, everywhere.”

Though the Winter Olympics aren’t as popular as their Summer counterpart, the Winter Games still spawn a nice fandom. Based on data from Google Trends collected in 2018, America’s favorite Winter Olympic sport is Ice Hockey.

“[Hockey is the most popular] because we have a professional sports league for it,” senior Dylan Jurgens said.

No matter what your favorite sport is, the Olympics are an incredible worldwide gathering of all sorts of cultures and groups. The games have been described as the pinnacle of achievement in the sports world, which brings an even more exciting and competitive feel to them.

“In terms of achievement, I think winning a gold medal is the pinnacle in any sport,” British tennis star and former olympian, Andy Murray, said to The Guardian.

The Olympics can primarily be seen on NBC. They can also be viewed on USA Network.