The Olympics: Scandals Overshadow the Success

The 2022 Beijing Olympics had no shortage of scandals, and this controversy took away from recognizing the accomplishments of the athletes who participated in the games.

Courtesy of the Boston Globe

The 2022 Beijing Olympics had no shortage of scandals, and this controversy took away from recognizing the accomplishments of the athletes who participated in the games.

Fiona Salisbury, Photojournalist

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics were full of scandals. From figure skating to snowboarding, it seemed that all the world could talk about was the scandals that came along with the event. The sad reality of the Olympics is that the world seems to care more about the scandals that stem from the event than the many hard-working athletes who have worked their entire lives to reach the Olympics.

One of the most discussed scandals of the 2022 Olympics came in response to Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s doping scandal. Valieva was favored to win gold, but when she tested positive for banned heart medication, the world was quick to give their opinion on Valieva. Regardless of what people believed about Valieva, the scandal overshadowed the other talented athletes who competed in the event. When Valieva’s training partner Anna Shcherbakova won gold, there was hardly any discussion on Shcherbakova’s success; people only continued to discuss Valieva.

One of the other widely discussed controversies of the Beijing Olympics came from Chinese-American athletes and the country they chose to represent. Two athletes who were constantly attacked by the media were Eileen Gu and Zhu Yi. These two athletes were born in California, but they chose to compete for China. However, Eileen Gu was praised by China and attacked by Americans for excellent performance in the Olympics while Zhu Yi faced backlash in China due to her disappointing performance. Not only did the conflict display itself in these two athletes, it also resulted in other Chinese-American athletes such as gold medalist Nathan Chen being attacked by Chinese citizens who were disappointed that they chose to represent the United States. The duality of their response illustrated a deeper conflict, and this scandal in turn took more attention away from the other athletes who were competing.

Outside of the athletes, the political controversies that surrounded the event also took away from recognizing athletes. Many countries held diplomatic boycotts to protest the way that the Chinese government has unethically been treating Uyghur Muslims in China. Even though these diplomatic boycotts served as an action to promote human rights, it did little if anything to end the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China. Among other political conflicts, throughout the entirety of the event, discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had begun. While these political conflicts should be addressed, athletes are being dragged into global conflicts when they simply want to compete.

With the Beijing Olympics being so controversial, it has led many people to wonder what the future of the Olympics will look like. According to Piper Guyton (11) “it is important for Olympic athletes to get the recognition they deserve.” No matter what the situation in the world is like, no one can deny that the athletes who made it to the Olympic level worked hard to get there, and their efforts should not be overshadowed by controversies.