OPINIONS Skyrocketing viewership speaks of the success of Beijing Winter Olympics


Skyrocketing viewership speaks of the success of Beijing Winter Olympics


14:05, February 20, 2022

A decoration installed for the 2022 Winter Olympics is pictured, in Beijing, China, January 21, 2022. (Photo: CFP)

According to information released on February 16 by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the organizing committee for the ongoing Games, Beijing 2022 is so far the most watched Winter Olympics. Timo Lumme, CEO and managing Director of IOC Television & Marketing Services, said the Games had attracted a historical number of viewers on digital platforms. The Olympic Broadcasting Services said earlier that the Beijing Winter Olympics had over two billion followers on social media platforms worldwide.

The soaring viewership speaks of the success of the Beijing Winter Olympics. It has completely shattered the prediction of some Western media outlets that this year's Olympics would receive a "chilly" reception from the audience.

It also shows that the passion, joy and friendship brought about by snow sports are shared by people all over the world, and that the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is making countries worldwide feel more confident and empowered through a spirit of solidarity, cooperation and hope.

China Media Group, the broadcaster that owns the exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the Games, has been continuously hitting records with its Olympic broadcasts. Up to the February 11, Chinese viewers had spent a total of 2.05 billion hours watching the Games on TV, which was 15 percent higher than the hours spent watching the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Olympics combined.

In the U.S., more than 100 million people have watched the Games. According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, the coverage of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics could be among the most watched video programs in American history.

Besides the fact that the viewership of the 2022 Games has increased by many times in America and also in some European countries that are traditionally top performers at the Winter Olympics, people in countries which are not particularly competitive in winter sports are also closely following this year's events. For example, around 40 percent of Australians have so far watched the Games.

Compared with the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympic Games is usually less followed. So what is making the Beijing Winter Olympics appeal to viewers around the world? Important reasons are that it epitomizes the Olympic spirit of "Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together," it brings about a visual feast of strength and beauty, and it unites people from every corner of the world in these challenging times.

Hailey Langland of Team United States performs a trick during the Women's Snowboard Big Air Qualification on Day 10 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Big Air Shougang in Beijing, China, February 14, 2022. (Photo: CFP)

People are touched by many moving stories of athletes competing in Beijing. There were athletes like German speedskater Claudia Pechstein who is in her late 40s and has competed in seven Winter Olympics before Beijing, and Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot who won a gold medal after beating cancer.

There were also memorable moments such as when Ashley Caldwell, an American freestyle skier, gave a congratulatory hug to her rival Xu Mengtao, a Chinese athlete, on winning the gold, and when Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and Chinese figure skater Jin Boyang tried to form a heart in front of the cameras.

These inspirational people and stories have struck a chord with the audience worldwide. An Australian media professional in sports said it was so wonderful to see athletes hugging each other, and a Canadian internet user said "I was moved to tears" and "the Olympics rocks!"

The Beijing Winter Olympics has also opened a new window for the world to understand China. People were impressed by the opening ceremony that combined digital technology with aesthetic innovation; athletes from different countries were wowed by COVID-19 safety measures in stadiums and robots lowering plates of food from the ceiling in the canteen. All of these shows a China that is in stark contrast to the portrayal by some Western media.

Recently, American freestyle skier Aaron Blunck pointed out at a press conference that people in the U.S. might have "heard some pretty bad media that is completely false," and that " Everybody – from staff, to COVID-19 testers, to accommodation – it's probably, honestly, one of the better Olympics that we've been to." These fact-based comments are a slap in the face for those in the West who have tried to politicize sports.

With its skyrocketing viewership, the Beijing Winter Olympics will undoubtedly go down in Olympic history. The spirit of solidarity it represents will be ingrained in our memory and inspire people across the world to join hands and head toward the future.

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