With rings breaking from block of ice, Winter Olympics ceremony begins

1 / 2
IOC President Thomas Bach passes on the Olympic flame to Abdulla Shahid, President of UN General Assembly at the 2022 Winter Olympics, on Friday in Beijing. (AP)
2 / 2
Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 05 February 2022

With rings breaking from block of ice, Winter Olympics ceremony begins

  • On a three-dimensional cube resembling a block of ice, lasers carved imagery from each of the previous 23 Winter Games
  • The entrances for "Hong Kong, China", as well as for Russia, generated applause in the partially filled stadium

BEIJING: The opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics kicked off on Friday night.

The culmination of preparations beset by the COVID-19 pandemic and criticism over human rights in China that led several countries to mount a diplomatic boycott.

Held on the first day of Spring by the Chinese calendar, it began with a performance by dancers waving glowing green stalks to convey the vitality of the season, followed by an explosion of white and green fireworks that spelled the word “Spring.”

On a three-dimensional cube resembling a block of ice, lasers carved imagery from each of the previous 23 Winter Games. The block was then “broken” by ice hockey players, enabling the Olympic rings to emerge, all in white.

That was followed by the traditional “parade of nations,” with each of the 91 delegations preceded by a woman carrying a placard in the shape of a snowflake resembling a Chinese knot.

In keeping with Olympic tradition, the parade was led into the stadium by Greece with the rest ordered by stroke number in the first character of their Chinese name, which meant Turkey was second, followed by Malta, with host China set to go last.

The entrances for “Hong Kong, China,” as well as for Russia, generated applause in the partially filled stadium.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, the highest profile foreign leader present for the Games, could be seen in the stadium. However, the athletes from his country were unable to carry its flag due to doping violations, marching instead under the standard of the Russian Olympic Committee.

RETURN TO BIRD’S NEST

Friday’s ceremony began shortly after President Xi Jinping and International Olympic Committee Chairman Thomas Bach entered the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium.

Soon after the start, the Chinese flag was passed among 56 people representing China’s different ethnic groups before it was raised and the national anthem performed.

Directed by Zhang Yimou, reprising his role from Beijing’s 2008 Summer Games triumph, the event was to feature 3,000 performers on a stage comprised of 11,600 square meters of high-definition LED screen resembling an ice surface.

All of the performers are ordinary people from Beijing and nearby Hebei province, with “the Story of a Snowflake” its central thread.

With temperatures of about -4C (25F) at the start, the show was set to be about half as long as the four-hour marathon that opened the 2008 Games, also at the Bird’s Nest.

The crowd itself was pared down, with organizers deciding last month not to sell tickets to Olympic events to curtail the spread of COVID-19. A “closed loop” separates competitors and other personnel from the Chinese public throughout the Olympics.

Zhang, the director, said the ceremony takes into account the changed global backdrop, including the pandemic and what he said were hostile forces “suppressing and blackening” China.


Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup

Updated 11 August 2022

Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup

HELSINKI: This time, there were only two goals.
David Alaba and Karim Benzema scored in each half for Real Madrid to win the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday.
Alaba prodded the opener home from close range in the 37th minute when Casemiro cushioned Benzema’s header back after a corner. The French star then sealed Madrid’s record-equaling fifth Super Cup title in the 65th thanks to an assist from the lively Vinícius Júnior.
It was Benzema’s 324th goal for Madrid, overtaking club legend Raúl. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has more after scoring 450 goals for the club between 2009-18.
But the game between the Champions League winners, Madrid, and Europa League champions, Frankfurt, failed to match the spectacle of their previous meeting.
Their only other competitive game was the 1960 European Cup final, when Alfredo Di Stéfano scored three goals and Ferenc Puskás chipped in with four to give Madrid a 7-3 win and fifth consecutive European crown.
Frankfurt goal-scorer Erwin Stein and teammate Dieter Stinka were in Helsinki for the rematch 62 years later, but it was the 93-year-old José Santamaria — the only remaining Madrid player from that final in Glasgow — who celebrated another win. The three veterans embraced warmly when they met before kickoff.


Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia

Updated 10 August 2022

Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia

  • New centers will be in Jouf, Hail, Al-Hudud Ash Shamaliyah and Al-Baha

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation is set to establish four new regional associations to help promote the sport across the Kingdom.

The federation told Arab News on Wednesday that is has 15 official associations representing the sport in nine regions, but aims to establish new associations in the remaining four regions “to make sure that we have future cricket activities all around the Kingdom.”

The long-term aim is for Saudi Arabian cricket teams to compete professionally at regional and international competitions, with the national teams taking on world’s best.

In recent years, the SACF has introduced several competitions and programs to encourage the country’s youth to take up one of the world’s oldest and most popular sports.

In October 2021, it signed an agreement with sports management company JSW Sports to develop cricket in Saudi Arabia, focusing on high-performance academies.

The SACF was established in 2020 and lined up a series of major initiatives the following year, including a national cricket championship, a corporate cricket tournament, a cricket league for expatriate workers, and a social program in several cities.

The initiatives are part of a mission to promote healthy and active lifestyles under the Saudi Vision 2030’s Quality of Life scheme, with the SACF — supported by the Ministry of Sports and Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee — mandated to increase physical activity levels by 40 percent over the next decade.

In November, the SACF partnered with Saudi’s Sports For All Federation to launch the Kingdom’s first cricket talent-spotting program.

Related


Zamalek president jailed for insulting rival

Updated 10 August 2022

Zamalek president jailed for insulting rival

  • Al-Ahly and Zamalek are historic rivals whose fans regularly clash after matches
  • Zamalek boss, Mortada Mansour, was initially sentenced to one year in prison for insulting Mahmoud al-Khatib, president of Al-Ahly

CAIRO: An Egyptian appeals court has sentenced the president of Zamalek football club to a month in prison for insulting the president of bitter rivals Al-Ahly, a judicial source told AFP on Wednesday.
Al-Ahly and Zamalek, the country’s two biggest clubs and among the continent’s most successful, are historic rivals whose fans regularly clash after matches.
The 70-year-old Zamalek boss, Mortada Mansour, was initially sentenced to one year in prison for insulting Mahmoud Al-Khatib, president of Al-Ahly and a former star player, and his family in a video posted on social networks and on Zamalek’s club channel.
On Wednesday, Mansour’s sentence was reduced to one month in prison and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (500 euros).
A former magistrate and member of parliament, Mansour is regularly in the news. He has had a long-running battle with Al-Ahly and has physically attack his counterparts.
His parliamentary immunity had for a while enabled him to avoid legal proceedings after complaints of insults and defamation.
In 2007, he was sentenced to three years in jail by a criminal court in Cairo for “insulting” court officials and levelling accusations of corruption against them.

Related


Ajax star Tadic robbed at home in Amsterdam: reports

Updated 10 August 2022

Ajax star Tadic robbed at home in Amsterdam: reports

  • The apparently targeted attack on the star Serbian player in late July was the latest in a spate of robberies on Dutch celebrities
  • Two men wearing motorbike helmets accosted Tadic as he stepped out of his car outside his home

THE HAGUE: Top Ajax attacking midfielder Dusan Tadic was wounded when robbers ambushed him outside his Amsterdam home, Dutch news reports said on Wednesday.
The apparently targeted attack on the star Serbian player in late July was the latest in a spate of robberies on Dutch celebrities, national broadcaster NOS said.
Two men wearing motorbike helmets accosted Tadic as he stepped out of his car outside his home in the Dutch capital’s south two weeks ago, the daily tabloid De Telegraaf said.
“It seems they wanted to rob him of his valuable wrist-watch,” the paper said.
“After a short pursuit Tadic was involved in a scuffle in which he managed to open the visor of one of the helmets and hit the robber, the paper said.
Tadic then ran into a nearby cafe and called the police.
The robbers got away and no arrests have been made, the paper added.
A few days later the Ajax footballer was seen with plasters on his hand during a season opener against PSV, Amsterdam daily Het Parool reported.
The assault on Tadic is the latest in a spate of such attacks on celebrities and sports stars.
Last year former PSV attacker Eran Zahavi and his family were tied up and robbed of money and possessions.
Other targets included rappers Ali B and Lil Kleine as well as social media star Nikkie de Jager, who was tied up and beaten during a robbery at her home in Uden near Eindhoven two years ago.


Real Madrid hope stability breeds success as La Liga kicks off

Updated 10 August 2022

Real Madrid hope stability breeds success as La Liga kicks off

  • There have been no dramatic changes at the Santiago Bernabeu, and no hint of a superstar signing to reinforce the attack after Kylian Mbappe turned them down in favor of a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain

MADRID: Real Madrid are hoping a summer of stability sets them up for a successful defense of the Spanish title as the season kicks off in La Liga this weekend, despite some eye-catching moves in the transfer market from Barcelona.

Madrid set the ball rolling on Wednesday against Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup, as they target another trophy-laden campaign under Carlo Ancelotti following their league and Champions League double last season.

There have been no dramatic changes at the Santiago Bernabeu, and no hint of a superstar signing to reinforce the attack after Kylian Mbappe turned them down in favor of a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain.

Yet there have been no significant departures either, with the influence of Gareth Bale, Isco and Marcelo having dramatically declined before they were all released.

That means Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, who turns 37 in September, will remain hugely influential.

Ancelotti can also expect the influence of the likes of Vinicius — whose goal won May’s Champions League final against Liverpool — Rodrygo and Eduardo Camavinga to increase this season.

And two significant signings have arrived.

France midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, 22, has joined from Monaco for a fee of up to €100 million ($102m), while Germany center-back Antonio Rudiger, 29, joins on a free from Chelsea.

“I believe we’ve got two players who are among the best in the world in their role,” Ancelotti told UEFA.com.

“Their quality increases the team’s physical and technical ability.”

Real were champions by 13 points from Barcelona, and it would have been more had the Catalans not improved enormously in the second half of last season.

Xavi Hernandez has already made a big impact as coach at the Camp Nou and a raft of new recruits headed by Robert Lewandowski could help them bridge the gap to their bitter rivals.

Leeds United winger Raphinha and AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie have also joined, while the defense should be greatly improved by the signings of Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen.

The problem is that, by the start of this week, Barca had still not been able to register their new recruits because they had not raised enough money to comply with spending restrictions imposed on the club by La Liga.

That is despite Barcelona’s board selling off assets, including 25 percent of Barca Studios, which manages the club’s digital business and audiovisual productions, to Socios.com for 100 million euros.

Twenty-five percent of their domestic television rights for quarter of a century have been sold to US investment fund Sixth Street for 400 million euros.

Those deals are on top of a sponsorship agreement with Spotify, and on Tuesday it was reported in Spain that Barcelona would sell another 25 percent of Barca Studios to an investment fund for 100 million euros in a bid to satisfy La Liga.

The club have also been pressuring midfielder Frenkie de Jong to leave in order to dispose of his salary.

There may be concerns about the long-term consequences of these deals for a club with reported debts of 1.3 billion euros, but if they can register the new recruits then they could also be a real force to be reckoned with.

“We have generated a lot of hopeful anticipation. We have lots of hope too,” admitted Xavi. “Our objective this year is to win titles and play good football.”

If Barcelona cannot close the gap to Real then it appears unlikely anyone else can, with Atletico Madrid not looking significantly stronger than last year, when they finished third.

Luis Suarez has returned to his native Uruguay and Antoine Griezmann’s form is uncertain, although Axel Witsel reinforces their midfield and Argentine international Nahuel Molina adds quality at right-back.

On top of that, they still have Diego Simeone.

Sevilla came fourth last season, securing Champions League qualification at the expense of city rivals Real Betis, who won the Copa del Rey.

While Sevilla have signed Isco, they have lost two outstanding center-backs, with Kounde departing and Diego Carlos going to Aston Villa.

It was notable that the latter preferred to join a mid-table Premier League club rather than stay and play in the Champions League.

That reflected English football’s pulling power, while Goncalo Guedes, Valencia’s top scorer last season, has gone to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Saudi-owned Almeria are back in La Liga after seven years, with Real Valladolid and Girona the other newly-promoted teams.