Broadcasting the Winter Olympics: Beijing 2022


Photo provided by: Wikimedia Commons

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics ended Sunday, Feb. 20. The 2026 Winter Olympics are scheduled to be held in the Italian cities of Milano and Cortina, more officially noted as the XXV Winter Olympic Games.

Julia Moon, Editor in chief

The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing broke records and fulfilled Olympic dreams for many worldwide athletes. The host country of the XXIV Winter Games, China, has made precautions to avoid COVID contact as much as possible by implementing a zero-COVID policy during the Winter Games. Strict policies meant less on-site fans, with entry being limited to athletes and their coaches, as well as Olympic staff and judges. Some athletes were forced to drop out of competition due to quarantine while others experienced an Olympic village that was sadly, quite empty.

Along with the lack of in-person fans and spectators, the Beijing Olympic Games resulted in the lowest US viewership ratings of all previous Winter Games. When compared to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Beijing saw a steep drop from an average total of 19.8 million in 2018 to an average audience of a mere 11.4 million.

“I’ve watched both [the Summer and Winter Olympics] before in previous years,” senior Isaac Abdelmessih said. “This year’s Winter Olympics is different from before due to the overwhelming amount of isolation that the athletes had to undergo because of COVID. No audience was allowed, which led to an Olympic game that I’ve never really seen before.”

The fall in live viewership was not entirely unexpected for the Olympics, as the unprecedented circumstances that the pandemic has brought has only worsened the already present trend of lower television ratings.

“It makes sense due to COVID, but I think that watching performances without the audience’s excitement makes it less captivating,” junior Kylie Johnson said. 

But for those who enjoy supporting top athletes worldwide who were competing for the historic gold medal, this year’s Olympics was ultimately still the stage for one of the largest winter sporting events in the world.

“I only read a few excerpts and watched a few clips,” senior Carrie Hernandez said. “[But] I thought the figure skating performances were really impressive this year, especially Yuzuru Hanyu for attempting the quadruple axel.”

Despite the initial broadcasters of the Olympic Games losing such a large number of television viewers, platforms that streamed or played clips of replays of events gained viewers. Given that Beijing 2022 occurred on the other side of the globe, where the time is 13 hours ahead of those in Florida, it can become difficult to watch the winter sports events live on television. Unlike watching the games live, video replays are more accessible, no matter what the time is.

“I would just watch the videos of my favorite skaters because there are so many people competing, but I was mostly interested in watching my favorites,” Johnson said. “Usually there is a huge crowd cheering on the skaters, and to me it just makes the event that much more engaging because you can see how people who are there are feeling the same emotions and anticipation as those at home.”