PM Imran joins world leaders at colourful Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony


Beijing: Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is on a four-day visit to China, joined other world leaders at Beijing’s National Stadium to witness the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics 2022 on Friday.

The prime minister, who reached China on Thursday, was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar on the occasion.

Among the athletes parading at the ceremony was Pakistani skier Mohammad Karim from Gilgit-Baltistan. The 26-year-old is the only Pakistani athlete who will compete in the Alpine Skiing Slalom event on February 16.

A tiny four-member contingent will be representing the country at the Winter Olympics, the Pakistan Olympic Association announced on Tuesday. Besides Karim, it includes Syed Noman Ali as the chef de mission, Nadeem Ajmal Khan as the team leader and Mirza Mohammad Qamar as the Covid-19 liaison and the coach.

PM Imran and his delegation rose from their seats to join the spectators in welcoming Pakistan’s squad as it paraded at National Stadium, waving the national flag.

Opening ceremony

Friday’s ceremony began shortly after President Xi Jinping and International Olympic Committee Chaiperson Thomas Bach entered National Stadium, also called Bird’s Nest stadium.

According to media reports, around 3,000 athletes from 91 nations would compete across 109 medal events in the Winter Olympics, which will conclude on February 24.

Soon after the start of the ceremony, the Chinese flag was passed among 56 people representing China’s different ethnic groups before it was raised and the national anthem performed.

Held on the first day of Spring by the Chinese calendar, the ceremony saw an opening act by dancers waving glowing green stalks to convey the vitality of the season, followed by an explosion of white and green fireworks that spelled the word “Spring”.

On a three-dimensional cube resembling a block of ice, lasers carved imagery from each of the previous 23 Winter Games. The block was then “broken” by ice hockey players, enabling the Olympic rings to emerge, all in white.