February 04, (THEWILL) – On Friday, the Nigerian flag was raised in Beijing, China, as the Beijing Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony began.
As the world Congress to terms with the tumultuous build-up clouded by human rights concerns and COVID-19, the games have defied all concerns and the opening ceremony is testament to this fact.
Beijing therefore becomes the first city to host both a summer and winter Olympics and the lattice-shaped “Bird’s Nest” stadium took centre stage, just as it did at the 2008 Games, which were hailed as China’s coming-out party on the global arena.
President Xi Jinping, whose tenure has seen China take a more assertive international posture than it did 14 years ago, was present at the opening ceremony.
More than 20 world leaders, including Xi’s Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, will join him in declaring the games officially open. The two presidents met earlier in the day.
China and Russia’s relations with the United States have deteriorated significantly, and as tensions in Europe rise over Russia’s force build-up on the Ukrainian border, Putin praised his hosts’ “truly unprecedented nature.”
The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia are among the countries boycotting the Olympics diplomatically due to China’s human rights record, particularly the treatment of the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.
For the first time in the Winter Olympics’ history,
Nigeria will compete in the cross-country skiing event with Samuel Ikpefan, who was born in the French Alps town of Annemasse, as the sole representative of Nigeria.
Ikpefan qualified to represent the country after his decision to switch nationalities and become Nigerian was confirmed in 2016.