Over 3000 years have elapsed since the idea of the Olympic Games was born in ancient Greece. With a symbol of five interlocking concentric rings representing the continents of North and South America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia, the spirit of Olympics has through the centuries percolated the entire globe - becoming a strong unifying factor in our collective human experience.
Espousing the values of excellence, friendship and respect, Olympics Games have morphed into a formidable platform of intercultural exchanges, talent cultivation, education and entertainment.
It is for these reasons that billions of people across the world eagerly await the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Years of intense preparations by China have since crested, with all the sporting venues, Olympics village and the media centre readied months ahead of the kick-off.
For the first time in the history of the Olympics, the 2022 edition will be powered by green energy. This is a major effort to integrate sports with ecological conservation, a smart climate action aimed at reducing emissions while setting precedent for other economies.
Staging the games as scheduled in the backdrop of a global health crisis is no mean feat. To avoid the pitfalls of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where over 500 participants contracted the virus, Beijing has operationalised an integrated plan to ensure participants at the Olympics are cushioned from the Covid-19 disease.
Besides routine epidemic management practices like regular screening, China is also offering vaccines to the participants. The closed-loop approach will further eliminate interaction between the athletes and the wider population - acting as a safeguard against community transmissions of Covid-19 disease.
Safety of athletics is an important consideration for many countries sending their nationals to the games. China’s enviable track record in containing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic therefore makes Beijing one of the most qualified nations to stage the Olympics Games at this time.
China’s unyielding efforts to stage safe, open, clean and green Olympics is proving crucial to the success of the games. The International Olympics Committee has endorsed the level of preparedness by China, affirming confidence among the hundreds of national Olympic committees slated to participate in the games.
The rising enthusiasm for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics has doused splinter voices keen to leverage geopolitics or ideology to stoke indifference and possible boycott of the games.
Sports events have worked to bridge historical, cultural and even ideological divides; bringing people together and creating amity among nations. In the history of modern Olympics, it was only in 1916, 1940 and 1944 that the games did take place because of the world wars.
China has emerged as a strong sporting nation given its track record in recent international sporting events. By hosting the Olympics, Beijing is demonstrating its international cooperation resolve, putting forward some of the best infrastructure aimed at strengthening the spirit and outcomes of the games. Already tens of teams from around the world are in China for the test matches; a move that besides promoting sports knowledge exchange also helps the participants to acclimatize to the competition environment.
The 2022 Beijing Olympics Games will also be an important event to further solidify Sino-Africa cultural exchanges. China has been an important partner in the modernization of Africa’s sporting infrastructure. The opening of the Amaan stadium in Zanzibar, Tanzania in 1970 marked the first stadium to be constructed by China in the continent.
In Kenya, the Moi International Sports Centre- Kasarani was constructed by China while Chinese enterprises have also supported refurbishment of additional facilities like the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi and Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret.
Across Africa, China has so far funded and constructed over 50 sporting facilities. This support has significantly contributed to cultivation and development of sporting talent in Africa. Kenya which is home to global athletic figures like Eliud Kipchoge is raving to participate in the Beijing Winter Olympics. While China has honed diverse talents in different sporting events, when it comes to long distance races; they should brace for tough times in the tracks when Kenyan contemporaries show up at the games next year.
The writer is a scholar of international relations with a focus on China-Africa relations. Twitter: @Cavinceworld