First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We'd like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick

More specifically, we'd like those who can afford to pay to start paying. What it comes down to is whether or not you value Daily Maverick. Think of us in terms of your daily cappuccino from your favourite coffee shop. It costs around R35. That’s R1,050 per month on frothy milk. Don’t get us wrong, we’re almost exclusively fuelled by coffee. BUT maybe R200 of that R1,050 could go to the journalism that’s fighting for the country?

We don’t dictate how much we’d like our readers to contribute. After all, how much you value our work is subjective (and frankly, every amount helps). At R200, you get it back in Uber Eats and ride vouchers every month, but that’s just a suggestion. A little less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos.

We can't survive on hope and our own determination. Our country is going to be considerably worse off if we don’t have a strong, sustainable news media. If you’re rejigging your budgets, and it comes to choosing between frothy milk and Daily Maverick, we hope you might reconsider that cappuccino.

We need your help. And we’re not ashamed to ask for it.

Our mission is to Defend Truth. Join Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Opening ceremony of Beijing Winter Games begins

Newsdeck

Winter Olympics

Opening ceremony of Beijing Winter Games begins

epa09727079 Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games at the National Stadium, also known as Bird's Nest, in Beijing China, 04 February 2022. EPA-EFE/ROMAN PILIPEY
By Reuters
04 Feb 2022 0

BEIJING, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics kicked off on Friday night, culminating preparations that were beset by the COVID-19 pandemic and criticism over human rights in China that led several countries to mount a diplomatic boycott.

It began shortly after President Xi Jinping and International Olympic Committee Chairman Thomas Bach entered the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium, its rim bedecked by the flags of the 91 competing nations and regions.

Directed by Zhang Yimou, reprising his role from Beijing’s 2008 Summer Games triumph, the event was to feature 3,000 performers on a stage comprised of 11,600 square metres of high-definition LED screen resembling an ice surface.

All of the performers are ordinary people from Beijing and nearby Hebei province, with “the Story of a Snowflake” its central thread.

The show, with temperatures of about -4C (25F) at the start, was set to be about half as long as the four-hour marathon in 2008, also at the Bird’s Nest.

The crowd itself was pared down, with organisers deciding last month not to sell tickets to Olympic events to curtail the spread of COVID-19. A “closed loop” separates competitors and other personnel from the Chinese public throughout the Olympics.

 

WELCOMING OLD FRIEND

Though smaller in scale than the Summer Games, the Beijing Winter Olympics are being staged by a much more prosperous, powerful, confident and confrontational China under Xi.

China’s hosting of the Olympics has drawn criticism since the International Olympic Committee selected Beijing in 2015, and countries including the United States, Britain and Australia mounted diplomatic boycotts, meaning they did not send government representatives to the Games.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, the headlining foreign guest, arrived on Friday for a meeting with Xi ahead of the opening ceremony, bringing a deal to increase natural gas supply to China amid rising tensions with the West and winning a pledge from Xi to deepen mutual cooperation.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV noted that Putin, like China, expressed opposition to the “politicisation” of the Games.

 

WINTER WONDERLAND

Zhang, the director, said the ceremony takes into account the changed global backdrop, including the pandemic and what he said were hostile forces “suppressing and blackening” China.

“In this new and complex global situation, the Winter Olympics will show the confidence and pride of the Chinese people, the love of Chinese people, the affection of Chinese for the people of the world,” he told state news agency Xinhua.

The official start of the Games would come as a relief to organisers navigating the extreme complexity of staging them during a pandemic while adhering to China’s zero-COVID policy.

Organisers also hope it quietens a steady drumbeat of criticism from activists and governments over China’s human rights record in Xinjiang and elsewhere – criticism that China rejects.

“I believe that at the instant in which the Olympic flame is lit, all of this so-called boycott banter https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/boycott-banter-be-doused-by-opening-says-games-organiser-2022-02-03 will be extinguished,” Zhao Weidong, a spokesperson for the Beijing Games, told Reuters.

By Tony Munroe, Muyu Xu and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber.

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted