Beijing (AFP) – “Obviously I would have preferred to go somewhere else.” Like Swedish athlete Sebastian Samuelsson, many athletes have admitted lack of sympathy for China, the host country of the 2022 Winter Olympics, whether for cultural, political or environmental reasons.
No ski culture
“I find it unfortunate, it’s not a country with a ski culture. We went to China for the first time in 2017, and we saw how ski resorts are built for the Games,” French 2018 Olympic shock champion Beren Lafont told AFP in November. “.
“It’s going to be a special Olympics. Going to China is a small disappointment. There is no enthusiasm for winter sports as in Europe or in other countries,” added Quentin Villon-Maillet, the general classification leader for the Cup. From the world.
“I took part in the Youth Olympic Games (in Innsbruck in 2012) and there was a very festive atmosphere,” says his partner, Chloe Chevalier. “I had this picture of the Olympics and it pains me to tell myself it’s going to be different. I need to prepare myself, but it won’t be the most beautiful Games in history.”
China comes from afar: In a decade, the number of stations has grown from 200 to 770, many of them indoor complexes, according to US real estate consultancy JLL.
Snow and the environment
“I’ve seen a ski resort built from scratch, and it’s not really environmental when there are resorts and infrastructure, already ready, in other countries. There’s no snow, it just doesn’t make sense,” Lafont said.
The area where the Olympic stadiums are located is notorious for having little precipitation in the winter, so it rarely snows despite the cold. The games will be played with a 100% synthetic nine, the production of which requires large amounts of water and energy. Beijing has confirmed that all electricity consumed during the Games will be from renewable sources (wind, solar, etc.).
“There will not be much snowy landscapes. Extremely difficult conditions have been announced in terms of temperature and wind. There is also a lot at stake from an environmental point of view. It hurts to see that they have razed a mountain and it is now a forest of lampposts. It is not So natural,” Chevalier denounced.
“Obviously I would have preferred to go somewhere else. I don’t think tournaments or games should be organized in this kind of country,” began Sebastian Samuelsson a few months ago in an interview on Swedish Public Television (SVT).
Due to the violation of human rights in Xinjiang, several countries decided to diplomatically boycott the Games, including the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.
An issue that also bothers some athletes, although they prefer not to mention the topic so as not to jeopardize their sporting lives.
“We don’t have the power to choose where the Games go. On the athletic side, I’m going to do my job and don’t want to get into politics. As an athlete, I don’t want the Games to be canceled. For us, they represent four years of efforts,” said Canadian Michael Kingsbury, champion of the Games. Olympic 2018 in bumper skating, questioned by AFP about the virtual sports boycott.
“We’re talking about China within the team, we’re talking with AI to get more information on what’s going on,” Norwegian world champion Sebastian Vos Solivag told AFP.
“We’re thinking about what we can do, but our conclusion is that nothing good has happened with the boycotts. If you boycott it is personal, you won’t be there but you are not going to push things forward. But boycotts are not an option, we are thinking about other things. I hope to focus them on skates, but we are aware that there are serious problems in China.”
“I would like us to think of the respectable Olympic Games, in true spirit and joy,” Fionn-Mayer concluded. “Not with countries that spend billions to organize the Games in facilities that will not be used later or that go to countries that do not have a tradition of winter sports.”
© 2022 AFP