They have come from different continents, with different skin colors, but on the ice and snow in China, they laughed together, took photos together, and hugged each other to congratulate or comfort.
The Beijing Olympic Winter Games, which ends on Sunday, has given athletes across the globe an opportunity to understand each other and make friends, just as the angelic voices at the opening ceremony sang: "thousands of you and me, gather into a family."
Friendship was shown when American athlete Ashley Caldwell hugged 31-year-old Chinese aerial skier Xu Mengtao after the latter won the gold medal. Caldwell, who had just missed out on the medals, shared Xu's joy. Lachlan McKirdy, from an Australian media outlet, said on his Twitter account: "That moment between Caldwell and Mengtao Xu is so special! "
It was shown when another American athlete Tessa Maud bade a tearful farewell to Beijing. The 18-year-old snowboarder became known to Chinese people after she posted a vlog on Tiktok, saying a volunteer who welcomed her at the opening ceremony made her tear up. "All the volunteers are so sweet and so kind," she said. "We feel so welcomed." Later she received a letter from the volunteer she mentioned, who invited her to visit China again sometime after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fairness was ensured when the American curler John Shuster called a break to tell his Chinese rivals that his teammate fouled by touching a stone of the Chinese side. Both Shuster and the judge asked the Chinese team if they would like to put their knocked rock back, a move that would put them in an advantageous position.
But Chinese skip Ma Xiuyue refused, saying that the American team didn't gain with the foul. China ultimately lost the match 8-6. "Both teams showed the Olympic spirit," commented a web user after the match. "This is Olympics: you win in a clean way, with your own abilities."
It was ensured when Chinese men's snowboard slopestyle silver medalist Su Yiming and his coach Sato Yasuhiro called on in an open letter to stop criticizing the judges, following the controversy where the champion of the event was incorrectly scored.
Iztok Sumatic, head judge of the men's snowboard slopestyle final, told the snowboarding professional website Whitelines that "it would be different scores" if the judges had seen champion Max Parrot miss a grab from the camera angle provided to them. In the phone call, Yasuhiro and Su told Sumatic they "understand grading sometimes can be really difficult."
Safety was ensured when the number of positive cases of COVID-19 reported inside the "closed-loop" for the Winter Olympics declined from a peak of 26 cases on February 2 to zero 11 days later. Australia's four-time Olympian Britteny Cox said: "I actually think the bubble is really excellent. I feel really safe, I feel like the village is incredibly clean and healthy."
It was felt when American alpine skier Nina O'Brien, injured in the giant slalom event on February 7, was treated by China's skiing doctors immediately. More than 40 medical staff from several prestigious hospitals in Beijing spent years before the Winter Olympics practising skiing, in order to be able to reach the injured athletes as fast as possible.
The American ski and snowboard team tweeted: "Nina would like to express her gratitude to all of the people who assisted her so quickly in the finish area at the race, and especially to the doctors and nurses at the hospital who have taken such great care of her."
In spite of calls for a diplomatic boycott from a few Western politicians, the Beijing Winter Olympics has become the most watched Winter Games ever, with more than 100 million Americans tuning in on the networks of NBCUniversal, and 2.5 billion engagements on Olympic channels.
It is not surprising, because people all aspire for good things, especially in a world where instability, inequality and the COVID-19 pandemic are still affecting mankind.
The smiling faces of athletes from all countries and regions at the closing ceremony, as well as the video they posted on social media during the Winter Olympics stand as lasting and irrefutable proof.
With athletes coming from 91 countries and regions, the sports gala epitomized an ideal world: safe, fair, and where friendship prevails. It tells the world that it is possible to unite and to compete in a decent way.
While it has come to an end, the memory shall be cherished by both athletes and audiences. During times of hardship, the Games provide a glimpse of hope.
When all the events are finished and everyone has left, the Beijing Winter Olympics theme song still resonates in empty stadiums.
"We all need love, so let's join our hands; we all have love, so let's open all the gates," it says.
"Together for a shared future, let's go. Together for the future."
or reload the browser