The IOC has long sided with autocrats – but the Beijing Winter Games radically show just how far the sport has strayed from its values. Chinese propaganda can work.
Christoph Jessen and Johannes Knuth
It must be an exhilarating gathering, and a huge welcome to the VIP box, when the XXIV Olympic Winter Games open Friday at the National Stadium in Beijing. Topping the guest list is Vladimir Putin, an “old friend,” as Xi Jinping, China’s head of state and party leader, recently promoted his Russian counterpart again. Both are surrounded by a group that resembles a list of autocrats: Kasim-Jomart Tokayev, the president of Kazakhstan, who recently brought down the uprising in his country; Heads of state from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan and from Egypt to Qatar; a handful of high-ranking nobles, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg; from Europe, after all, Polish President Andrzej Duda, colleagues from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina; But also António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
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