In 2022, Beijing held the Winter Olympics. On the surface, these winter sports are very entertaining. Athletes perform death-defying stunts in a bid to win medals, and the Games were a success in 2018. But Beijing was a massive failure for many reasons and was also a nightmare for the major television network NBC.
First, the organization wasn’t great. Geopolitics had a massive influence. There was also the ongoing global health crisis. The ratings were also terrible. In this list, we’ll look at why the Winter Olympics were a massive failure. Check it out below via The Guardian.
25. Fake Snow
Mexico has never held a Winter Olympics, and nor is it ever likely to. That’s because it doesn’t produce large quantities of snow. Every sport in this competition depends on snow or ice. Without it, it’s not the Winter Olympics. However, China took a different approach.
Bizarrely, none of the snow in Beijing was real. China had it artificially produced for the games. While this wasn’t the main reason why the Games were a massive failure, it contributed. Fake snow is also harder and denser than the real thing. As a result, many athletes suffered extra bruising and injuries (via Insider).
While the Beijing Olympics lacked real snow, they made up for it with severe wind chills. Snowboarding and ski events took place in a mountain zone. It had dangerous levels of wind chill. One Finnish skier even suffered frozen genitalia because of the conditions (via CTV).
This also meant that competitors were unable to perform to their full potential. That’s because the strong and icy winds reduced their desire to execute risky tricks. This lack of foresight helped turn the games into a massive failure. In the end, it affected the overall product.
China received massive global criticism after the disappearance of Peng Shuai. The tennis star was one of the nation’s most visible athletes. In 2022, she accused a high-ranking government official of sexual assault (via NY Post). Then the government made her disappear. This was shocking because the world was watching.
The WTA canceled several lucrative events in solidarity with Shuai. She made a brief appearance at the Games. But she didn’t speak to the media. Many people believed that the IOC should have followed the WTA’s example. China didn’t respect the freedom of its athletes.
Many global viewers mocked some of the game’s venues. The skiing and snowboarding events took place in a remarkable setting. Lots of people thought it was a nuclear plant. But it was a former steel factory. However, the huge chimneys gave the site an ominous appearance.
China didn’t want to build new arenas for the event. This is reasonable because many hosts waste money on the Olympics. But this area’s aesthetic made it a massive failure. It was also surreal for the competing athletes (via Bloomberg). At least no athletes fell into a chimney.
Curling is one of the Winter Olympics’ most curious sports. It’s the ultimate test of partnership. In short, one athlete slides a stone toward a target area. Then, the other sweeps the ice to affect the stone’s speed. Norway stole the show in recent years because of their team’s uniforms.
The Scandinavian nation is famous because its teams wear flamboyant trousers. These eye-catching designs have become iconic. But Norway wore dull navy pants in Beijing. This instantly made the Games a massive failure for fashionistas around the world (via NPR).
Shiffrin was one of Team USA’s biggest medal hopes before the Beijing Games. The alpine skier was a heavy favorite in multiple events. In the end, her Olympics ended without a single medal. It was very disappointing because of the expectations she brought into the Games (via CNN).
This also reduced the U.S.’s hopes of topping the medal charts. Shiffrin’s lack of personal success had another side effect. When a top athlete fails to deliver it also influences public perception. Her massive failure left many fans feeling cold about the tournament.
NBC secured the rights to the Olympic Games in 2014. They thought they pulled off a massive coup. However, they wish they never signed on the dotted line. An immediate issue was the trio of Asian Games. First, South Korea held the Winter Olympics, then Tokyo and Beijing had successive events.
They were already up against it but the Beijing Games were a massive failure. That’s because they were the least-watched Olympics in history. People didn’t tune in because of the time zones. Meanwhile, the NFL postseason was also at its height. Also, some fans refused to watch in protest. (via BSM).
For the first time, the Super Bowl clashed with the Winter Olympics. There was only going to be one winner in the United States. Joe Burrow’s Bengals played Matthew Stafford’s Rams in the showpiece event. However, it had a profound effect on TV ratings (via Dispatch). After all, football is America’s most popular sport.
NBC went back to the Olympics after the big game. But half of the country was either drunk or too sleepy. ESPN dominated with its Super Bowl coverage. This left NBC picking up the scraps. It cost them dearly because there was no competition and it was a massive failure for NBC.
China’s reputation concerning journalistic freedom is appalling. Many international reporters complained about their treatment. They revealed government interference and intimidation (via The Guardian). It was difficult to perform their duties. This also made the games a massive failure.
Officials promised not to interfere with athlete interviews. However, the reality was different. Security physically dragged a Dutch journalist away on live TV. He even had permission but they didn’t care. There was also an online campaign with fake bots and trolls.
The Winter Olympic athletes weren’t as famous as their Summer counterparts. Yes, Eileen Gu became the breakout star. But she came into focus before the event. Norway dominated the Games in 2018. However, none of their athletes were household names.
Arguably, snowboarder Chloe Kim was the biggest U.S. star. She was a two-time gold medallist. Kim also appeared on “The Masked Singer.” But she’s not a global icon like Usain Bolt (via Forbes). In the end, the lack of star power helped make these Olympic Games a massive failure.
Kamila Valieva is one of the greatest figure skaters ever. She holds multiple world records at the tender age of just 15. However, her name became notorious during the Beijing Games. She failed a drug test before the tournament. But the IOC controversially allowed her to compete.
Later, the Russian Olympic Team won the team skating competition. For the first time in history, the IOC didn’t hold a ceremony for the medal winners. That’s because of Valieva’s disputed status (via France 24). It’s a shame that it came to this.
Child abuse also stained the image of these games. We’ve already discussed Valieva. The young Russian’s competition was a car crash. The pressure overwhelmed her and she then fell apart in front of the world. Finally, her coach angrily berated her on live television (via Slate).
It was horrifying to watch because of her tender age. Meanwhile, another young Russian star broke down on the ice. She performed an excellent routine but only won silver. The mental strain raised many uncomfortable questions. Many viewers didn’t like seeing these youngsters suffer.
Beijing was also unlucky because the tournament came after the Tokyo Olympics. Remember that Japan postponed its event because of the pandemic. This meant that the Games were closer together than ever before. It was also the third straight Olympics in Asia after South Korea in 2018.
Furthermore, the three Asian events didn’t attract the West. The time zones made it difficult for viewers to tune in. People didn’t spontaneously watch the Olympics. Meanwhile, the lack of traveling fans made it a less exciting experience (via Bloomberg).
China is notorious for its stringent health restrictions. They had intense testing practices in place and it made life a nightmare for athletes. Polish Speed Skater Natalia Maliszewska revealed that officials moved her in and out of quarantine for multiple days (via ESPN).
This disrupted her preparation and left her uncertain about her ability to compete. Meanwhile, U.S. figure skater Vincent Zhou entered quarantine after failing a test. However, officials refused to release him after subsequent tests proved negative. This was a massive failure on their behalf.
Athletes also complained about the terrible facilities. The Olympic village atmosphere should feel special. However, their accommodation was grim (via The Sun). Meanwhile, they were unable to mix with other teams. Many stars felt lonely as a result.
One Finnish athlete recorded flooding in her building. The sprinklers went off and water accumulated. It was a massive failure because this is such a basic thing. In the end, most of them were happy to leave Beijing. That’s a sad reflection on the organizers.
Geopolitics stained the Beijing Games. China is actively threatening Taiwan because they believe the island nation is part of their territory. They actively make incursions into Taiwanese airspace. China also says it will use force to reunify the countries. Many believe war is inevitable.
Critics compared China to Nazi Germany in the 1936 Olympics. Hitler flaunted Germany’s strength in front of the world. Then, he invaded half of Europe. Chinese leader Xi Jinping had similar intentions for this global tournament. It’s part of why it was a massive failure. The world saw through it.
These games also lost prestige. That’s because western political leaders refused to attend. Traditionally, many dignitaries appear at the opening ceremony. However, China’s overseas aggression turned them away. Western politicians didn’t want to be there and it’s hard to blame them.
The U.K and the U.S. didn’t send representatives because of these crises but they allowed their teams to compete. They recognized that athletes work hard for these opportunities. However, it was a massive failure. The IOC shouldn’t have given China these Games.
The Olympic spirit is about the world coming together. Everybody wants to see the best athletes excel. Meanwhile, some athletes are also passionate about social rights. Unfortunately, a shadow hung over the Beijing Games. Freedom of speech simply doesn’t exist in China.
The IOC warned athletes not to make political statements and said they were unable to protect them. This was a disgrace because the IOC should put athletes first. Some stars said they didn’t want to compete in Beijing. However, their short careers left them with no choice (via Time).
Democratic leaders refused to attend the opening ceremony. However, several infamous dictators didn’t mind. Vladimir Putin made a state visit to China. A few weeks later, Russia began the process of invading Ukraine. This was a terrible look for the IOC. They enabled these dictators to flaunt their power.
China tried to sports-wash its image. The IOC shouldn’t have allowed this to happen as this was a massive failure on their behalf. Meanwhile, athletes didn’t have a choice. Sure, they could have boycotted. But they devoted their lives to this single moment (via Indian Express). It’s not fair for them to be in this position.
The lack of fans also made these games a massive failure. Fans bring color and excitement to the Olympics. They also give the host city a sense of character. Otherwise, the tournament could be anywhere in the world. However, China’s strict border rules made this impossible.
They also had tight limits on domestic spectators. Sports like figure skating suffered. That’s because the athletes gain energy from the crowd. It made the competition feel less special than usual. This was unfair to the competitors because they gave it everything (via Al Jazeera).
Nutrition is a crucial aspect of sports performance. Olympic athletes are in peak condition. Most of them want to put good food into their body because they’ll feel better. But Beijing was a massive failure. That’s because the food was horrible (via Global News). This is so basic but they made a mess of it.
One Russian athlete claimed that the food was disgusting. Another competitor claimed that she lost weight because it was so bad. It was even worse for isolated athletes. Officials gave them the same menu for multiple meals. It was a disaster.
Even the tournament’s breakout star had a tough time. Gu lived in California for all of her life. But she qualified to represent China through her mother. Then organizers made her the face of Beijing. However, her allegiance to the U.S. made this controversial.
Meanwhile, some Americans resented her decision. Gu also had a major controversy online. She posted to Instagram daily. Chinese netizens criticized her because she breached censorship rules. Gu couldn’t keep everybody happy.
These games were controversial because they were in China. Meanwhile, the World Cup was in Russia in 2018. Soon it will also take place in Qatar. Critics think that organizers are irresponsible. They are choosing money over the Olympic spirit. These host cities are abusive regimes.
Furthermore, their foreign policy is appalling. But these governing bodies don’t care. The athletes don’t even see the big money. Executives exploit them for billions of dollars. This is a massive failure and should be condemned (via Bleacher Report). That’s part of why many people don’t watch.
China is committing genocide against its population. They’ve interned over two million Uyghurs. Furthermore, there are reports of forced sterilizations and executions. It’s one of the worst crimes against humanity in recent history. But the world is allowing them to continue.
The IOC knew about this. But they still gave the Games to China. This is a massive failure to stand up for what is right. No country should do this to its people. History won’t look back on this event kindly (via PBS). In sum, it’s a disgrace it went ahead.
In the end, these games weren’t fun. Yes, there were some brief moments of respite. It was nice to see Chloe Kim win her second gold. Everybody enjoyed Nathan Chen’s win too. But the politics made this too much for many people. They simply didn’t want to watch.
The lack of fans also made this a massive failure. Major tournaments need global spectators. It’s all part of the experience that Beijing lacked. This was one of the least inspiring Olympics in history. The winners deserve credit. However, it’s best to forget about Beijing.