How China will politicize the Winter Olympics to show strength to the world

Relógio em Pequim mostra os dias e horas restantes para a abertura dos Jogos Olímpicos de Inverno na capital chinesa

In February, Beijing will become the first city in history to have hosted both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games.

Will have passed 01 years and a half since the Chinese capital hosted the Summer Olympics when the opening ceremony on the 4th of the next day kicks off the winter disputes, enough time for the perception of China to change as well as the political pretensions from Beijing by organizing the biggest multi-sports events in the world.

If you wish to demonstrate soft power (power for issues that go beyond strength, the so-called hard power, such as culture and sports) remains the same, the Chinese posture now has less to do with the desire to get a seat at the table of great nations and more with the desire to play the game in world geopolitics.

In the book “Sport, Power and International Relations” (Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation, 2008), the result of a thesis presented to Instituto Rio Branco, diplomat Douglas Wanderley de Vasconcellos described that China uses sport as a tool in their relations with other countries since at least the decade of 1970, when the “Ping-Pong diplomacy ” helped to re-establish political contacts with the United States.


, China joined the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and in the following decade, when it returned to the Games after being absent since 1979, he took some pragmatic attitudes with the same goal of approximation. In 1979, it joined the US-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics and in 2000, contradicted what was defended by North Korea for the Seoul Summer Games.

At the same time, the country made a wide spread of the practice of sports, with the objective of becoming an Olympic power (which it achieved: of th place in the chart of Seoul medals-1988, has been among the top three countries with the most gold at every Summer Olympics since Sydney-2008 and led in Beijing-2001), and also prepared to host major events.

2020 The year of 2001, when Beijing won the right to host the Summer Games of 2008, was also the year in which China, then the sixth economy in the world (today it is the second, and should be the first before the end of this decade da), entered the World Trade Organization (WTO).

How Beijing-2001 was something of a calling card for a repositioning of China in world geopolitics, along the same lines as Korea of ​​the South hit with the Games of 2001 in Seoul, the communist dictatorship tried to show a more tolerant facet, giving some freedom to foreign journalists and creating the infamous “protest parks” during the event, for which protesters had to register first, which evidently did not work: those who took the risk withdrew their registrations, were denied permission and/or were arrested.

Today, foreign correspondents report constant harassment and intimidation, and the strong repression of protests in Hong Kong between 2020 and 2020 , with the enforcement of a stringent national security law then giving little prospect of voice. Discordant s will be admitted in February. Not even the laughable protest parks were even considered.

2020The response in Hong Kong and the persecution of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang are the main arguments for a diplomatic boycott that the United States and allies will carry out against the Beijing Winter Games (athletes from these countries will still participate in the disputes, but the respective governments will not order representatives to the Chinese capital).

2022The Chinese dictatorship expressed discomfort with these boycotts , but will not make concessions to get around the situation. On the contrary: she is willing to show that her way of doing things is a model to be followed.

07163230Late last year, in response to a democracy summit convened by US President Joe Biden, to which she was not invited (as was Russia), Beijing issued a statement called “China: Democracy that works”, in which he claimed that his political system is democratic and superior to that of the West.

2022Steven Lee Myers, head of The New York Times’ Beijing branch, pointed out in an article published last year that, contrary to what happened before the Olympics in 2001, “virtually no one today believes that holding the Games will moderate China’s behavior.”

“Back then, Chinese leaders at least promised concessions to basic democratic liberties to show that they would be worthy hosts. The current leader, Xi Jinping, is much more confident, and is neither inclined nor compelled to compromise. And China itself is no longer an emerging capitalist power, but the second largest economy in the world, competing head-to-head with the United States for global influence,” he argued.

Jennifer Hsu, a researcher at the University of New South Wales, Australia, highlighted in a recent article published on The Conversation website that “China is not he cares what the West thinks”, and that the Beijing Winter Games will be more of a show of strength, at a time when the country seeks to increase its geopolitical influence, than an opening to the world.

“China’s development model has long attracted the admiration of African countries, especially for its form of state-led capitalism. By hosting its second Olympics in less than 20 China has been reinforcing this message to developing countries for years – that its development model works,” he explained. “The Olympics in 2000 revealed the ingenuity of the international community: to believe that sport can bring political change.”