Winter Olympics
Image by Michael Wedermann from Pixabay

The 2022 Winter Olympics are right around the corner. And if you have questions about the Games—like when are the 2022 Winter Olympics or will the Beijing Games even happen?—you’ve come to the right place. As of now, the 2022 Olympic Games are happening, and below, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about this prestigious global sporting competition.

So if you’re curious about when and where the 2022 Beijing Games are taking place, how often the Winter Olympics occur, how many sporting events are included in the Games, and which country has nabbed the most Winter Olympic medals, keep scrolling for answers. Below, you’ll also learn about whether spectators will be allowed at the Games, how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the Olympics, and what’s going on with the diplomatic boycotts you may have heard about. Consider this your complete guide to the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

Before we dive in, a big caveat: As with all things in the pandemic era—and most especially during this latest surge in cases caused by the highly contagious omicron variant—there is still a good dose of uncertainty surrounding the 2022 Winter Games. For instance, it’s unclear if and how the omicron strain will affect athlete participation as well as the execution of the opening and closing ceremonies and the schedule of events.

We’ll continue to update this page with any significant changes made in the coming days, and keep this information as accurate as possible. Keep reading to find out what we know so far about the Winter Games!

When are the 2022 Winter Olympics?

The 2022 Winter Olympics officially start on Friday, February 4, and conclude on Sunday, February 20, 2022. The opening ceremonies are on February 4, though preliminary competitions for some sports—including curling, freestyle skiing, and ice hockey—begin on February 2. From February 2 to February 20, there will be different competitions hosted each day. The closing ceremonies are on February 20.

The 2022 Paralympics will feature 10 days of competition, with events kicking off on Friday, March 4, and wrapping on Sunday, March 13.

Check out the full schedule of Olympic events here. Remember, Beijing time is ahead of U.S. time—13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST)—which is important to keep in mind when looking at the schedule for events you want to watch.

Where are the 2022 Olympics?

The 2022 Olympics will be held in Beijing, China. Beijing is the first city to host both summer and winter editions of the Olympics, and several venues from the 2008 Summer Games will be reused for the Winter Games in 2022.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the Games will take place in central Beijing. Many of the Olympic ice sports—like curling, ice hockey, speed skating, and figure skating—as well as the big air snowboarding event will happen there too.

However, not all competitions will actually unfold in China’s capital city. Both the Olympics and Paralympics will take place in three different competition zones: central Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou.

The alpine skiing events and the sliding events (bobsled, luge, and skeleton) will be held in Yanqing, a mountainous suburb of Beijing located about 50 miles from the city’s center. And the majority of the ski and snowboarding events—including freestyle, cross-country, ski jumping, Nordic combined, and biathlon—will take place in Zhangjiakou, a popular Chinese ski destination approximately 110 miles northwest of Beijing.

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The Olympic and Paralympic villages, where athletes stay while attending the Games, are spread across three locations. There will be one village in Beijing with 1,300 beds, one in Yangqing with 1,430 beds, and one in Zhangjiakou with another 2,640 beds.

How often are the Winter Olympics?

The Winter Olympics and Paralympics happen every four years. That means the most recent Winter Olympics and Paralympics occurred four years ago, in 2018. That year, the Games were in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The Summer Olympics also happen every four years. Typically, the Summer Olympics occur about 18 months before the Winter Olympics. However, if it feels like we just had the Olympics, you wouldn’t be wrong. Because the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics were postponed to 2021, there has only been a six-month gap between the 2020 Summer Games and the 2022 Winter Games.

How many sports are in the Winter Olympics?

There will be seven sports at the 2022 Winter Olympics and 15 different disciplines. Here are the Winter Olympic sports, and the disciplines within each:

  • Biathlon
  • Bobsleigh (which includes both bobsleigh and skeleton)
  • Curling
  • Ice hockey
  • Luge
  • Skating (which includes speed skating, short track speed skating, and figure skating)
  • Skiing (which includes cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, and snowboard)

All in all, there will be 109 sets of medals awarded at the 2022 Olympics—seven more than there were at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. New events this year will be contested in bobsleigh, short track, freestyle skiing, ski jumping, and snowboard.

Athletes in the 2022 Paralympic Games will compete in 78 different events across six sports in two disciplines:

  • Snow sports (which includes alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, and snowboard)
  • Ice sports (which includes para ice hockey and wheelchair curling)

Which country has won the most Winter Olympic medals?

Norway is the winningest country in both Winter Olympic history and Winter Paralympic history. It has nabbed 368 total Olympic medals (including 132 gold medals, 125 silver, and 111 bronze), and 327 total Paralympic medals (136 gold, 106 silver, and 85 bronze.)

The United States has the second highest medal count in history for both the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. It’s netted 305 total Olympic medals (105 golds, 112 silvers, and 88 bronzes), and 315 total Paralympic medals (111 gold, 119 silver, and 85 bronze.)

And Germany ranks third in both editions of the Games. The country has 240 total Winter Olympic medals (92 gold, 88 silver, and 60 bronze) and 255 Paralympic medals (105 gold, 79 silver, and 71 bronze).

How many spectators will attend the 2022 Games?

Not dissimilar from the Summer Games, the Winter Games will have a very limited number of spectators.

Here’s what we know so far: The Beijing Organizing Committee hasn’t said exactly how many people will be allowed to attend the Games, but on January 17, it released a statement saying it won’t sell any more tickets “given the current grave and complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Previous guidance from September 2021 had allowed people in mainland China who met “COVID-19 countermeasures” to purchase tickets.

Instead of additional people in the stands, there will be an “adapted” program that will allow groups of invited spectators to be present on-site during the Games. (At the time of publication, additional details regarding exactly what the adapted program would look like were not available.) “The organizers expect that these spectators will strictly abide by the COVID-19 countermeasures before, during, and after each event as pre-conditions for the safe and sound delivery of the Games,” the statement read.

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What are the COVID-19 protocols for the Winter Olympics?

No big surprise here: The 2022 Olympics and Paralympics will be different from previous Winter Games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Playbook, all athletes will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days before leaving for China or they must quarantine for 21 days upon arrival in Beijing. Athletes will then follow certain protocols and take part in a “closed loop” system, which includes dedicated transport and no contact with the public, to cut the risk of transmission. Plus, like we mentioned above, spectators will be limited.

What’s going on with the diplomatic boycotts?

You may have heard that several countries—including the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, and most recently, Denmark and the Netherlands—have announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Games. What does that mean, exactly? Essentially, government officials will not attend the Games. Athletes from the boycotting countries, however, will still attend and compete in the Games.

In announcing the U.S.’s decision to boycott the 2022 Olympics in December, White House press secretary Jen Psaki cited “genocide and crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang, a northwestern region of China, The New York Times reported. Calls for a human rights–centered boycott were also issued following the news of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star who accused a former top government official of sexual assault and then disappeared for several weeks in November 2021, per The New York Times.

Canada and Denmark also cited their concerns over human rights issues in China as the reason for boycotting. And Australia pointed to the abuses in Xinjiang and China’s criticism of Australia’s plans for new nuclear submarines as reasons why they won’t send government officials to the Games. The Netherlands, for its part, isn’t sending government officials to the Games because it believes China’s COVID-19 rules would make it challenging for Dutch diplomats to discuss their “grave concern” about human rights, Reuters reported. Japan also recently announced it would not send an official government delegation to the Games, though it didn’t call the decision a diplomatic boycott, The New York Times reported.

What are the upcoming Winter Olympics locations?

After the 2022 Beijing Games wrap, the next Winter Olympics and Paralympics will be hosted in Italy, in the cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, in 2026. The host of the 2030 Winter Games will be announced in 2023, Sports Illustrated reported.

The next Summer Olympics and Paralympics will take place in Paris in 2024, followed by the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles, and the 2032 Summer Games in Brisbane, Australia.

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