China and Qatar, at the center of the sporting world in 2022

On February 5, 2021, in Beijing, the logo of the 2022 Winter Olympics © KEVIN FRAYER / GETTY IMAGES ASIAPAC / via AFP

Text by: Farid Achache Follow

4 min

The first major sporting event of 2022 takes place in China with the Winter Olympics in Beijing, from February 4 to 20.

At the end of the year, Qatar will host the first FIFA World Cup organized in the Middle East.

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The world elite of winter sports meet at the Olympic Games in Beijing, for a meeting under tension between calls for boycott and health crisis.

To limit the risks of an outbreak of Covid-19, linked in particular to the Omicron variant, China has implemented drastic measures.

All participants must be vaccinated or observe a quarantine of 21 days, then will integrate a "sanitary bubble" for the duration of the Games.

Only people living in China can purchase tickets.

The Chinese regime must also face accusations of human

rights violations

, especially in its predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang (Northwest).

"Diplomatic boycott" of the Winter Games in China

The United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Australia have thus decided on a “diplomatic boycott” of the Games, where they will send many athletes but no official officials.

Japan

will not send government representatives. Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno avoided calling the decision a boycott, but said "

 we have no plans to send government officials

 ."

On the other hand, the president of the Tokyo-2020 Olympic organizing committee Seiko Hashimoto will visit the site, as well as the president of the Japanese Olympic committee Yasuhiro Yamashita. Ms. Hashimoto will go to Beijing "

 to express gratitude and respect to the athletes and others who supported the Tokyo Games 

" held last summer. South Korea, an ally of the United States, for its part announced that it would not diplomatically boycott the Games, citing the need to continue to cooperate with China.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has meanwhile invoked its "neutrality" on the issue, refusing to comment on " 

purely political decisions" and especially welcoming the absence of a sports boycott.

Opposed to

"any attempt to politicize sport and the Olympic movement

 ", Russian President Vladimir Poutine has confirmed his arrival.

Football in the desert

For its part, Qatar hopes to change

its controversial image

during the World Cup organized from November 21 to December 18. This small but wealthy Gulf emirate has invested billions in sport. Doha faced vote-buying charges after her nomination in 2010 and has been vilified for its treatment of migrant workers, especially those who built the stadiums for the first ever winter World Cup in history. The suffocating heat of summer had to be avoided.

At the end of 2021,

Qatar

achieved its Arab Football Cup won by Algeria, thus testing its infrastructure and reception capacities one year before the World Cup, with an overall positive assessment. But the World Cup will be a whole different challenge. With the participation of sixteen teams playing in six of its eight World Cup stadiums, the wealthy city-state received around 530,000 spectators until the final. Most of the stadiums have been inaugurated but doubts remain about the accommodation capacities of hotels as well as access to alcohol for fans in this very conservative Muslim country of nearly 2.7 million inhabitants.

The participating teams were globally rave, like the coach of the Algerian selection, Madjid Bougherra: “ 

Frankly everything is perfect, it is not to throw flowers at anyone. The stadiums are magnificent, the grounds are magnificent,

 ”he said at a press conference. Same satisfaction for the Portuguese coach of Egypt, Carlos Queiroz, who mentions " 

exceptional conditions 

".

Fans who come from all over the world will have to deal with local conservative mores to which they are not used, in a country where it is forbidden to be drunk in public or to have homosexual relations.

Since it obtained the rights to organize the World Cup, Qatar has been regularly accused of human rights violations, particularly of immigrant workers and sexual minorities.

The International Football Federation (Fifa) is reassuring.

“ 

There are problems and they are everywhere in the world.

Everything is not perfect in our Western world either, so we must push for progress,

 ”said its president Gianni Infantino.

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  • World Cup 2022

  • Olympic Games 2022

  • China

  • Qatar

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