The Beijing Paralympics officially began on Friday. In the moments after the opening ceremony, what captured global headlines wasn’t the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes, or visually impaired athlete Lĭ Duān 李端 lighting the Paralympic flame. Instead, it was China’s official TV broadcast choosing to omit International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons’s comments about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Tonight I want — I must — begin with a message of peace,” Parsons said in English from the podium at the center of the Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest. “I am horrified at what is taking place in the world right now. The 21st century is a time for dialogue and diplomacy, not war and hate.”
The China Central Television interpreter did not translate this part.
IPC President Andrew Parsons appeared to Chinese viewers and listeners to have a mic issue at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony this evening. But in fact his speech about how he was “horrified at what is taking place in the world right now” was censored in China. pic.twitter.com/AAVYNard6Z
— Mark Dreyer (@DreyerChina) March 4, 2022
On China’s Twitter -like social media platform Weibo, posts discussing Parsons’s opening speech and CCTV’s interpretation of his remarks vanished almost as quickly as they were posted. After the live broadcast concluded, CCTV appeared to have removed replays of the speech from its website and mobile app.
Here is Parsons’s full speech, including for his call “on world authorities to promote peace, understanding and inclusion”:
“We are aware of reports and have asked CCTV for an explanation,” IPC spokesman Craig Spence told AFP on Saturday. “We are still awaiting a response 24 hours on.”
Elsewhere, the Premier League was pulled from Chinese media platforms after it pledged solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. “The Premier League and our clubs wholeheartedly reject Russia’s actions,” the league said. “We call for peace and our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted.”
As reported by the BBC, iQiyi, the current Chinese rights holder, told the league that it would not broadcast last weekend’s games due to the planned shows of support.
The Premier League has not commented on iQiyi’s decision.
Chinese athletes dominate opening weekend of Winter Paralympics
Barely three days into the start of competitions and China has shattered the record books at the Beijing Winter Paralympics. Its athletes have won seven gold medals, eight silvers, and 10 bronzes — this after it had won one total medal in its five previous Winter Paralympics. It currently has twice as many total medals as the next-leading country (25 to Canada’s 12).
We asked in the previous China Sports Column whether home advantage will “help its athletes achieve breakthrough success,” and the answer has been a resounding yes.
Liáng Jǐngyí 梁景怡, Men’s Super-G Standing
Zhāng Mèngqiū 张梦秋, Women’s Super-G Standing
Liú Zixù 刘子旭, Men’s Sprint Sitting
Guō Yǔjié 郭雨洁, Women’s Sprint Standing
Zhèng Péng 郑鹏, Men’s Long Distance Sitting
Yáng Hóngqióng 杨洪琼, Women’s Long Distance Sitting
纪立家 Jì Lìjiā, Men’s Snowboard Cross SB-UL
Ji found company on the podium after the Snowboard Cross SB-UL event: his compatriots, Wáng Péngyào 王鹏耀 and Zhū Yǒnggāng 朱永钢, took silver and bronze, respectively.
Saturday will be a crucial day for the Games, with six cross-country golds available, alongside a further eight event finals, including in wheelchair curling — the only sport in which China, prior to this year, had won a Paralympic medal (a gold in Pyeongchang).
Strangely enough, considering all the success other Chinese athletes were having, China’s curling team lost its opening match on Saturday, 7-3 to Canada, then dropped another match the day after to Sweden. It has three wins though, over Estonia, South Korea, and Switzerland, and currently sit in third place in the 11-team event. It has five more matches to go in the 11-team round-robin portion of the competition, starting on Tuesday against the U.S.
The top four teams will advance to the semifinals, which will be contested on Friday.
Zhang Shuai claims WTA Lyon title:
Ukraine war makes Chinese sports problems event worse (Foreign Policy)
Canadian athletes pulled from this summer’s World University Games in Chengdu (CBC)
Legendary Artist Creates China-Inspired NFL Super Bowl Mural (Radii)
China denies it asked Russia not to invade Ukraine during Winter Olympics (The Guardian)
Winter Paralympics: The lowdown on being disabled in China (BBC)
The China Sports Column runs every week. Click here for our coverage of Beijing 2022.