The Olympic Games Return to China, in a Changed World

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Much has changed since China last hosted the Olympics, during the 2008 Summer Games. Those Games were widely seen as greatly improving China’s international reputation. But the 2022 Winter Games have put a spotlight instead on its human-rights abuses, most notably the genocide taking place against Uyghurs and Kazakhs. Peter Hessler, for many years The New Yorker’s China correspondent, asks David Remnick, “When an athlete says something about the internment camps in Xinjiang, and the oppression of Muslim people in China, what is the Chinese response going to be? The I.O.C. has really left them out there.” The sports reporter Louisa Thomas notes that these Games may garner little American support or attention, with few big-name American athletes for NBC to promote. “I even have a lot of friends who have no idea there’s about to be an Olympics,” Thomas says. Plus, at the Beijing pizzeria Pie Squared, the owner, Asher Gillespie, glumly assesses the Olympics boom that isn’t coming. With ticket sales halted and the events in a bubble, he says, “We're going to be watching from TV just like everybody else.”

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