Opening ceremony of Beijing 2022 mirrors vision of green Olympics

By Du Yanfei, People’s Daily

Beijing once again became a focus of the world as it kicked off the 2022 Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 4, becoming the first city to host both the winter and summer editions of the Games.

The dazzle of the National Stadium, the splendid fireworks, the elegantly beautiful snowflake-shaped cauldron, the creative flame “lighting,” and the smaller-than-usual flame… All the details of the opening ceremony of the grand event mirrored China’s making the Winter Olympics green.

As Chinese female cross-country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang and Nordic combined athlete Zhao Jiawen, the final two torchbearers at the Beijing 2022 opening ceremony, climbed up the snowflake-shaped cauldron carrying the final torch, the giant snowflake was sparkling behind them, signaling the solidarity of the 91 delegations to the Winter Games.

The two young athletes, both born after 2000, together placed the torch in the middle of the snowflake. Later, the snowflake rotated upward and became the cauldron.

It was a brand-new scene in the history of the Olympics, which marked the first time for the Olympic cauldron to be presented with a tiny flame, without the action of “lighting.”

The giant snowflake is made up of smaller snowflakes representing all the 91 participating delegations, and the final torch is indeed the cauldron, a tiny flame that has never been observed in the hundred-year-and-more history of the Olympics, said Zhang Yimou, Chinese filmmaker overseeing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2022.

The creative idea of turning the big Olympic flame into a tiny one was inspired by the vision of low-carbon development and environmental protection, Zhang introduced, adding that it would become a classic moment in the Olympic history.

It’s notable that compared with previous Olympic Games which fueled the torches with liquefied natural gas or propane, the Beijing 2022 is the first Winter Olympics to light the torches with hydrogen energy, which demonstrated China’s ambition to host a green Olympics.

As an environment-friendly fuel, hydrogen generates only water when burnt, and there’s no emission of carbon dioxide. It mirrors the principle of green, low-carbon and sustainable development championed by the Beijing 2022.

According to Cai Guoqiang, chief visual art designer of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2022, fireworks were staged only three times at the opening ceremony, totaling three minutes. Cai noted that fireworks in the shape of snowflakes and frost flowers were specifically developed for the Beijing 2022 to showcase the beauty of the winter.

The designer told People’s Daily that most of the fireworks used this time were manufactured in central China’s Hunan province and north China’s Hebei province, and all of them were environment-friendly and safe. Improvements have been made to the constituents of the propellant, and the gunpowder is non-toxic and makes no smoke. Therefore, the impacts on the environment have been significantly reduced.

Zhang said the simple firework display demonstrated the vision of hosting an environment-friendly and green Winter Olympics. The amount of fireworks to be used must be reduced as much as possible, because they have to be burnt anyway, though they are made with new technology and pollutant-free, he noted. “This indicates our confidence in our culture,” he said.

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