The 16-day Winter Olympics in Beijing ended on Sunday, Feb. 20. Unfortunately, unlike the last time China organized the competitions in 2008, international news this year is not fully inundated with awestruck comments.

It was a setback that the ratings for the Beijing Winter Olympics were much lower than those for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The Wall Street Journal cited data from NBC Sports, saying the Olympics attracted only 11.4 million viewers each night during the over two-week run, making it a new rating low in the history of the Games. It was down about 42% from the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018, which had the lowest Olympic audience to that moment.

Then, among reports on the competitions and the performances of the athletes, were a chain of complaints from competitors of various participant countries, ranging from food portions, the complicated COVID-19 procedures, the lack of access to training equipment to the facilities.

One example was the case with Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova. In a deleted Instagram post, she cried, saying that she had lost a lot of weight while being isolated for COVID-19. She said, “My stomach hurts, I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes.”

There were contentious calls about the fairness of the judicial system, with Business Insider reporting controversies in speed skating, ski jumping, and snowboarding events.

Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano, who secured himself a gold medal, was “angry” that his first triple cork ever in the Olympic history move could not gain him enough points for a first-place on his second run.

Speaking to AFP, he said, “We want to have sound standards and I think we should look into exactly what the judges were looking at. For the athletes, they’re putting their lives on the line, they’re giving it their all. So for the riders, I think some steps need to be taken to address this issue regarding the judges.”

Public attention was also on the doping saga with teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva from Russia and the issues with dual citizenships such as U.S.-born Chinese Nathan Chen and Chinese-American Eileen Gu. In addition, the appearance of female tennis star Peng Shuai at the Games also attracted reports, as her whereabouts and safety have been an international topic since November last year.

Rights groups such as Amnesty have warned high-profile events like the Olympics are often an occasion for China to “sportwash” its reputation and regain global legitimacy for the communist regime.

World participants had been advised to be lip-tightened about the human rights issue before and during their stay in China.

However, as Olympians safely return to their homeland from the Games, some athletes have begun to speak their opinions. One of them is Swedish gold medallist Nils van der Poel.

Keeping all his personal opinions shut down before and during the Olympics, on returning to his homeland, he told reporters that it was “extremely irresponsible to give it to a country that violates human rights as blatantly as the Chinese regime is doing.”

Van der Poel said, “The Olympics is a lot, it’s a fantastic sporting event where you unite the world and nations meet. But so did Hitler before invading Poland, and so did Russia before invading Ukraine.”

While the Winter Olympics was happening on the mainland, Chinese online also discussed another topic besides the competitions.

Since the end of January, the case of the chained woman in Xuzhou city of the northwestern Jiangsu province continued to be a viral topic.

According to Yahoo News, the incident involves a Chinese woman living in a village bound by a chain around her neck. She is a mother of eight and cannot articulate her words fluently. Her living conditions have sparked outrage over human trafficking crimes in China.

Yaqiu Wang, senior researcher on China at Human Rights Watch, told the Associated Press that “It evokes a broad sense of frustration and anger and a sense of powerlessness among people when they see government abuses and negligence.”

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.