The Winter Olympics gets under way on February 4, as thousands of athletes from dozens of countries descend on China for a two-week sporting feast. Our handy guide tells you everything you need to know about the XXIV Olympic Winter Games.
This year’s events will be the final Winter Games before the event celebrates its 100-year anniversary in 2024. The first ever edition was held in France in 1924, and the games have only got bigger and better since then.
The 1924 games featured just five sports: bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, skating and skiing. Each of those remains 98 years on.
The Winter Games has taken place every four years since its inception, although the event was not held in 1940 or 1944 due to the Second World War.
China is the 13th different country to host the Winter Olympics, and the third Asian nation after Japan and South Korea.
Norway sits top of the all-time medal table, with 132 golds, 125 silvers and 111 bronzes. The United States is second overall, followed by Germany, the Soviet Union and Canada.
Where is the tournament held?
The 2022 Winter Games will be held in Beijing, with the nearby towns of Yanqing and Zhangjiakou also set to stage some of the events.
Beijing narrowly beat Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, in the bidding process. China’s capital received 44 votes to Almaty’s 40, and will become the first city to have hosted both the summer and the Winter Games after it staged the former event in 2008.
When is the Winter Olympics on?
The Games officially begins on Friday 4 February, with the opening ceremony due to take place at the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest. However, preliminary competitions in events such as curling and ice hockey will begin on Wednesday 2 February.
The action concludes Sunday 20 February with the closing ceremony, which also takes place at the National Stadium.
How many sports are in the event?
The Games will feature seven different sports divided into 15 disciplines. The seven sports are biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing.
How to watch the Winter Olympics
The International Olympic Committee has agreed broadcast deals with numerous different partners around the world. To find out how to watch the action wherever you are, check out this list of international broadcasters.
Why this year’s games will be unique
This is not the first event disrupted by Covid-19. The Summer Games in Tokyo were postponed by 12 months, before going ahead in 2021 despite the Japanese government’s declaration of a state of emergency in the capital.
This is the first (and hopefully only) Winter Olympics to take place amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the impact of the virus will be painfully clear to see. This year’s Winter Games will have very few spectators in attendance, and the organisers of the event have already revealed they will not sell any more tickets due to the complications posed by the omicron variant.
The athletes have also been affected. All those competing in China are required to either be fully vaccinated or to have quarantined for 21 days before the games begin.
Another thing to be aware of is the diplomatic boycotts announced by several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Canada. None of those countries will send government officials to Beijing in response to accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, a province in northwest China which is home to the Uyghur population.