If you watched this year’s Winter Olympics, you might have caught a glimpse at the appalling things going on behind the scenes. This year’s Olympics were considered an Olympic-sized flop to many. It was also referred to as the Scandal Olympics, due to factors like illegal drugs, tensions between China and neighboring countries, and tensions within Olympic teams.
Reports from the Winter Olympics have claimed that the food was a disgrace and the surroundings were horrendous. Some participants were put down by their coaches, the people they respected the most. Those things coupled with the fact that China was already facing controversy because of the global health pandemic and other political tensions. Unlike this year’s Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Read on to find out exactly how the 2022 Winter Olympics devolved into an utter disaster below.
25. Russian Doping Scandal
This is the most controversial disaster on this list. Kamila Valieva, a 15-year-old Russian figure skater, participated in the Olympics even though she tested positive for an illegal drug used for heart conditions. There’s a ton of discussion, controversy, and anger as to why she was still allowed to participate. In a way, it invalidated the Winter Olympics and their supposedly strict doping standards for participation.
The entire figure skating and sporting world, in general, criticized the decision. “Kamila Valieva’s first Olympics were controversial, to say the least. The 15-year-old Russian figure skater entered the 2022 Beijing Games as a frontrunner in her sport after dominating the 2022 European Championships. But after leading Russia to a win in the figure skating team event, she tested positive for a banned heart medication.” – via CBS Sports
The Russian gold medal could be stripped because of Valieva’s case, which could take months to resolve. Until then, it seems they’ll keep the gold medal, but if it turns out for the worst, they’ll lose that gold medal in this year’s Winter Olympics (via AP News).
Also, it was decided that Valieva could still compete, but any event she won a medal in would not have a ceremony. This potentially stopped other athletes who had just achieved the biggest accomplishments of their sporting careers from being recognized. Thankfully for them, however, the huge pressure ultimately got to Valieva and she fell four times in the final event in which she was the favorite, knocking her out of medal status. But this whole disgusting situation could have been avoided if the IOC made the decision to remove her from competition altogether.
This year’s Olympics didn’t begin on a clean slate. There were numerous problems with the participants of the Olympics even before Valieva’s drama. This included sexual assault accusations from Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star, against a former Chinese official.
She was forced to recant the accusations as a result, creating more controversy in China. It turned into a Chinese coverup (via Washington Post). She did appear in a small capacity but was effectively silenced from telling her story. It’s no wonder this year’s Winter Olympics were so tumultuous due to blemishes like this.
We’re all informed about COVID-19, even a bit too informed. It comes as no surprise that there was tension with the Winter Olympics before it even started since it took place in China, where the pandemic began. There are also reports that the Chinese government spies on people and journalists were forced to leave their technology devices at home, and instead, bring burner phones to use at the Olympics (via Washington Post). Many people felt there was already dishonesty with the Winter Olympics before it even began. Talk about bad energy!
“Though that mission was somewhat successful, empty venues and the poor organization of the prestigious event have severely eroded China’s image,” he (Ashok Swain) said… Moreover, the Olympics also gave possibilities for the rights activists to highlight human rights violations in China. The diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics by the US, UK, and some other allies was not a good PR for China.” – via The Sun UK
COVID-19 is already a problem around the world, and the Winter Olympics aren’t immune to outbreaks, no matter how many precautions they took. It was one of the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks in the Beijing Olympics. There were over 200 reported cases linked to the Winter Olympics and it affected whole teams.
“The Russians were in isolation in the Olympic Village from Monday to Wednesday and couldn’t train after one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks so far at the Beijing Games. It wasn’t an ideal situation ahead of its opening group game against Switzerland, but they still won 5-2.” – via AP News
We can only assume how stressful it is to perform in the Olympics. Athletes don’t need any added stress, so when trolls on the internet shame athletes who perform less than par, it’s pretty heartbreaking. This year’s Olympics portrayed many internet trolls who had nothing better to do than shame athletes. These internet trolls could only ever dream of doing what Olympic athletes do (via Washington Post).
This year, only gymnastics had a minimum age requirement. (via AP News). This is quite shocking, considering many of these sports come with risks. An injury at a young age could affect an athlete’s performance for the rest of their life.
“You want these athletes to have an opportunity to have this be a profession, not a one-year run at it,” Mariah Bell, at 25 the oldest U.S. national champion in nearly a century, said after skating Tuesday. If we had an age (minimum) limit, I think it would promote that idea of longevity and somebody being 25 wouldn’t be shocking at an Olympics.” – via Star Tribune
Eileen Gu represented the Beijing Olympics, despite the fact she’s lived in California her entire life. Because of her ties to the USA, this made the decision controversial. She posted on Instagram daily and breached censorship rules (via Sport Scroll). This angered quite a few people.
The Winter Olympics are all about community and unity. This year, however, the Winter Olympics promoted separation. It went against celebrating human achievement. The IOC warned athletes against making political statements, the US and UK did not send representatives, and China’s government interfered with international journalists reporting on the games (via The Guardian).
Not only did people attending the Winter Olympics feel the separation within the Olympics, but the general public felt this separation from the outside world, too. Those who traveled to Beijing, including athletes, coaches, media, and team personnel, had to test negative twice before traveling. They had to test negative again upon arriving at the airport, and then every day within the “closed-loop” of Beijing (via USA Today).
One of the most testing sports in the Winter Olympics is curling, where athletes work together to slide a stone towards the target area. One athlete slides a stone, and another sweeps away the ice. It’s a team effort. Usually, Norway wears eye-catching pants, a symbol for their country and the sport. But, this year was different. They wore dull navy pants instead of their iconic attire.
American bobsledder Elana Mayors Taylor, who’s medaled in the past three Olympics, tested positive for COVID-19 at the Beijing Winter Olympics. She was then put in isolation. With her tight window to test positive, this created a lot of stress before her performance. Even though she felt great, like she could perform, she still had to wait for a negative test result.
She was rejected by keyboard warriors because she didn’t win a medal in Beijing. The keyboard warriors told her not to come back to the USA. Shiffrin was already facing a tough time by her results. But with the added negativity and reaction to her results, she felt gutted. Now, she’s heading back to Europe to try and earn more medals.
Many people refused to watch this year’s Winter Olympics as a protest (via BSM). Tokyo and Beijing had successive events. The Beijing Games were the least watched Olympics in history. Time zones were also a factor. That and with the NFL postseason going on it was a trio of bad timing and bad publicity that gave this Winter Olympics horrible ratings all around.
We’ve all had an outrage here and there. Olympic athletes are not immune to feelings of anger and frustration, and that includes Russian figure skater Alexandra Trusova. She shouted “I hate this sport” and pleaded she would never go into figure skating again after learning her result.
“Runner-up Alexandra Trusova was also in despair after her history-making five quadruple jumps proved not enough to beat teammate Anna Shcherbakova to the gold medal.” – via Washington Post
The Winter Olympics aren’t immune to political tensions, especially since it’s taking place in China. Long-time tensions between China and Taiwan continue, as China tries to claim the island as part of their territory. China is trying to forcefully unify the countries by making incursions into Taiwanese airspace. We can see parallels with China and Nazi Germany in the 1936 Olympics.
We all hope that the games in the Winter Olympics are as fair as possible. Sometimes, however, that’s not the case. This year, Russians won the team event because they used athlete Valieva two times, instead of Shcherbakova or Trusova to skate. But, because of Valieva’s drug case, their win could potentially be taken away. This trio is known as the ‘Quad Squad.’
Coaches are there to train and to motivate. Sometimes, they can take it a bit too far and use harsh words that actually have the opposite effect on athletes. Cameras at the Winter Olympics caught Eteri Tutberidze, a notoriously strict coach, using harsh words against Valieva. Authorities will investigate her further because of the failed drug test.
IOC President Thomas Bach even revealed dissatisfaction at how the entire ordeal unfolded. “When I afterwards saw how she was received by her closest entourage, with such, what appeared to be a tremendous coldness, it was chilling to see this,” Bach said at a news conference. “Rather than giving her comfort, rather than to try to help her, you could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance.” – via Washington Post
China enforced sterilizations and executions on its citizens. This is in an attempt to suppress the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, China. In recent history, this is one of the worst crimes to date. They’re committing genocide, and yet were still able to host this year’s 2022 Winter Olympics. It’s a shame this event was allowed to take place (via PBS).
We expect the Winter Olympics to be full of onlookers, cheering the athletes on. This year was the complete opposite. Pictures of the Winter Olympics have shown barren stadiums devoid of spectators other than the odd local here and there (via The Sun UK). This is not only a disgrace to China, but to the Olympics in general.
Food for an athlete is fuel. Without the appropriate fuel, they’re not able to perform as well as they can. Unfortunately, at this year’s Winter Olympics, the food was considered horrendous and inedible (via The Sun UK). Athletes ate a few lumps of pasta, chunks of meat still attached to bone, something that may or may not have been chicken, several potatoes, and a strange sauce. They ate this three times a day, five days in a row. Vasnetsova complained about the food and even admitted it left her emaciated.
Apparently, icy winds and freezing temperatures weren’t enough to convince everyone it was the Winter Olympics. Beijing took it to another level and produced fake snow. This took a turn for the worse due to its false nature. Fake snow is denser than real snow, so athletes ended up with more injuries and bruising because of it. – via Insider
The surroundings of the Winter Olympics were less than par. In fact, it was so bad that stunned social media users called it a “Hellscape Venue.” In the background of the venue where skiers perform was disused steel works, giving it a very dystopian feeling. It wasn’t something you want to look at during the Winter Olympics, because the games are usually visually stunning.
Not only have this year’s athletes had to deal with a plethora of disasters, but to top it all off, they had to deal with flooding. According to Instagram videos posted by cross-country skier Katri Lylynpera, water came gushing through ceiling light fixtures and sprinklers (via The Sun UK). It was more than just a leak, it was more of a waterfall according to the Finnish competitor and it made her experience horrible as a result.
Due to conflicting COVID-19 test results, Polish speed skater Natalia Maliszewska was repeatedly and forcefully moved into and out of quarantine over several days (via The Sun UK). This isn’t the sort of behavior you’d expect athletes to receive at the Winter Olympics, or just in general.
“It was 3 a.m, I was crying like crazy because I didn’t know what was going on. I did not feel safe at all,” she said. “I want explanations from the people who made me feel not safe, because nobody is saying anything now. They’re silent.”