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Will the Winter Games be a PR Disaster?

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The Winter Olympics opened to a lackluster start with only 14 million viewers, marking the least-viewed Olympics in the ceremony’s history. Beijing permitted 150,000 live spectators to attend the games at the last minute. Although this is not a lucrative endeavor for China, the minuscule audience is a blow to its public relations campaign.

China displayed dismay over diplomats worldwide boycotting the games over genocidal abuses that the CCP vehemently denies. Some news agencies have likened the boycotts to the Moscow Olympics of 1980 that saw over 65 countries boycott the games. “Together for a Shared Future” is the official motto of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games with aims to create a “community with a shared future for humankind.”

However, viewership has declined over the years. Tokyo’s games now hold silver for the second-least viewed games after averaging 15.6 million viewers. Tokyo marked a 42% plummet from Rio’s games which saw an average of 27 million viewers.

A diplomatic boycott is offensive to the CCP, but a boycott of the people shows that the public perception is that China is the enemy. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian warned the US not to boycott the games. “The politicization of sports will damage the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all countries,” said the spokesperson, Zhao Lijian. “The international community including the U.S. Olympic Committee will not accept it.” Still, the US announced it would send athletes but declined to send diplomats. Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, and around 10 EU nations have also announced diplomatic boycotts ahead of the games.

The games last until February 20, and it is to be seen if viewership or support of the games will spike, although it does not seem likely.