Chinese Culture’s Crucial Role in Upcoming Olympic Winter Games

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For the upcoming Winter Games, olympians gather from all over the world for not only a sporting competition, but a cultural experience.

As more details of the Winter Olympics come to light, culture is becoming increasingly present as the main feature of the event. The posters, torches, mascots, venues, and emblems overflow with the national identity as elements such as color, legends, and architecture are implemented in every aspect.

China is one of the Four Ancient civilizations, its culture one of the oldest in the world. They are led by the principles of harmony, wisdom, honesty and loyalty, and value family as one of the most important components of life. Modern Chinese society acts according to the principle of maintaining harmony between humankind and nature, and between mind and body. They believe in symmetry and balance.

This cultural pedigree has found its way into the upcoming Winter Games, set to begin Feb. 4 in Beijing, and run until Feb. 20. They will be held on old and new structures in three main zones: Beijing, Yanquing, and Zhangjiakou.

The opening and closing ceremonies will be held in the Beijing National Stadium, also known as “Bird’s Nest” because of its structural resemblance. The stadium’s design originated from the study of Chinese ceramics, which dates back between 7,000 and 8,000 years, according to Britannica.com.

Similarly, the Olympic villages of all three zones were designed according to the traditional characteristics of mountain villages in Northern China, which highlight culture and environmental protection.

This year’s chosen mascot is the Bing Dwen Dwen, a panda bear. Its name derives from Mandarian Chinese, where the word ‘Bing’ is most commonly translated to ‘ice’, but it carries a number of meanings, including purity and strength. Additionally, Dwen Dwen is used as a representation of children and means lively.

Panda bears carry great importance on a national, cultural, and personal level for Chinese people. For instance, Anita Hua, a senior from Shanghai, personally interprets the animal as a representation of balance, the Ying Yang and the moon and the sun. She feels they represent their everyday lives, and the circulation of days and season.

Anita also tells The Willistonian how the animal, recently determined to be an endangered species, has gained a new meaning.

“Panda is also important to us because it has been recently found on the verge of extinction, so our protection of panda is like our patriotism towards the country,” she said. “Like we want to protect the country.”

This Olympics slogan is “Together for a shared future,” a direct representation of how important unity is for the community. Such sense of unity is explicitly seen in the relationship between the 56 ethnicities in China.

Anita explains the harmonic interactions between the 56 ethnicities as they celebrate and respect each other’s traditions, united by their love for others and for their country.

“For example, I am a Han person, but a lot of people are from minority groups, and what unites us all together is our patriotism and our love for traditions,” she said. “Even though we all have different traditions and dialects, we celebrate the same festivals together so that kind of unifies together and pushes us to bond deeply within a nation, even if we are not from the same region.”

This also makes them more prone to accept different traditions, she explains.

The Winter Olympics also represent an important development on Chinese population as an ideological change has shifted the nation’s views on their own athletes.

“We have a lot of very young kids of like 15 and 16 years old I think, who won gold medals and silver medals at the last Olympics,” Anita said. “I think our country is getting better at specializing and supporting people who are pursuing an athletic professional path. Before we were all taking the exam, we were all academics, and now parents are giving children the liberty to pursue whatever we want.”