KSL OLYMPICS

2008, 2022 Olympic Games In Beijing See Many Differences

Feb 20, 2022, 11:05 PM

BEIJINGThe 2022 Beijing Olympics will go down as the most restricted Games in history.

COVID changed everything.  

KSL’s Alex Cabrero was one of the few NBC affiliate reporters who traveled to China. He was also there for KSL, reporting on the 2008 Summer Olympics, and says the lasting legacy of 2022 will be very different.

In the two and a half weeks of these Winter Games, Beijing Olympic Park near the Bird’s Nest was eerily empty. There was some movement, but much of it — just the volunteers, looking for anything to do.  

The venues stood proud, so did the security officers. But, for a city of 28,000,000 people, hosting the world’s biggest sporting event, it just didn’t feel like an Olympics.  

Beijing was alive and full of energy in 2008 when China hosted its first Olympics.

One of Alex’s best memories was going to a shopping mall and seeing the Chinese watch a large TV when Team China played against the USA in basketball.

There was so much pride.  

The night market was alive — people from around the world, trying new foods, excited to learn what China is all about.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this before,” a woman said laughing.

The atmosphere was festive throughout the city. Night and day, people were out having a great time.  

Alex did stories for KSL at the Forbidden City, the Beijing Zoo — where China’s most popular animal was on display.

“I think everybody is here for the giant panda,” Alex said.

He also visited the Ming Tombs, and of course, the Great Wall of China, which is one of the World’s biggest attractions.  

“This section of the Great Wall is one of the toughest and also one of the most popular,” Alex said.

The mystique of China was one anybody who was there will never forget. Same for meeting some of the locals, who were so excited to host the World, and to make visitors feel welcome.

That feeling wasn’t the same in 2022.  

That warmth from 14 years ago was replaced by an almost cold feeling, and not just because these are the Winter Games.  

Of course, these tight COVID restrictions shouldn’t reflect on the success of our Utah athletes — Nathan Chen, Erin Jackson, Alex Hall, who won Gold; and many others bringing medals back home to Utah.

But, even they will say, these Games were different.

And as we move forward to Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, maybe even Salt Lake City, for future Olympics, hopefully things will feel normal again.

KSL Olympics

Russian-Olympic-Committee-2022...

Associated Press

Russian Olympic Committee Loses Appeal Against Suspension By IOC

The Russian Olympic Committee has lost an appeal against its suspension by the International Olympic Committee.

4 days ago

LeBron-James-NBA-All-Star-Game-2024...

Tim Reynolds, AP

LeBron James Still Committed To Paris Olympics, But Health Remains Big Key

Los Angeles Lakers forward and NBA star LeBron James still wants to participate in the Paris Olympics this summer.

8 days ago

2024-Paris-Olympics-Medals...

John Leicester, AP

Paris Olympics Medals Are Made With Pieces Of Eiffel Tower

An Olympic medal inlaid with a piece of the Eiffel Tower. How’s that for a monumental prize in the 2024 Summer Games?

18 days ago

Clayton-Young-Conner-Mantz-United-States-Olympic-Team-Trials...

Kyle Ireland

Former BYU Distance Runners Qualify For Summer Olympics

Former BYU national champs Conner Mantz and Clayton Young earned spots on Team USA after their performances in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

24 days ago

Kamila-Valieva-Team-ROC-2022-Olympics...

Graham Dunbar, AP

Valieva Disqualified In Olympic Doping Case, Russians Set To Lose Team Gold To US

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was disqualified from the 2022 Olympics on Monday, almost two years after the teenager's doping case.

28 days ago

Josie-Johnson-Skiing-Japan...

Kyle Ireland

Utahn Credits Taylor Swift After Earning Silver Medal At Youth Olympics

Park City's Josie Johnson credited Taylor Swift for helping her capture the silver medal at the 2024 Youth Winter Games.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...

KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

2008, 2022 Olympic Games In Beijing See Many Differences