How to watch the Beijing Winter Olympics: Everything to know

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Workers set up the Winter Olympics-themed Chinese knot installation at Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, China.


Wang Xin/VCG via Getty Images

It seems like the Olympics just ended, but the Beijing Winter Games are just around the corner. The pandemic pushed the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics back a year, which means the Winter Games are starting a mere six months after the summer competition ended.

The Tokyo Games were a well-publicized struggle. Despite tight quarantine rules, many athletes and other people connected to the games tested positive for COVID-19.

The Beijing Games are already complicated for several reasons. The United States, Australia, Britain and Canada have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games, meaning top government officials won’t attend. The boycott is meant to protest China’s human rights issues. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, specifically cited “genocide and crimes against humanity.” But the boycott only affects politicians who would be attending as spectators. The countries are still sending their athletes.

Here’s a rundown on the information you need to know about the upcoming event:

When are the Winter Olympics?

The Beijing Winter Olympics will hold opening ceremonies on Friday, Feb. 4. Closing ceremonies will take place Sunday, Feb. 20.


How to watch the Olympics

Beijing is eight hours ahead of the UK time zone, 13 hours ahead of the US Eastern time zone and 16 hours ahead of the US Pacific time zone. (And for those in Australia in the AEDT time zone, Beijing is three hours behind.) Evening events, including the popular opening ceremonies, will air live in the morning US time. The full schedule of events is already live. Here’s how to view the competition in a variety of different ways:

NBC

NBC is airing the Games, so if you get your local NBC broadcast channel, you can watch the Olympics there.

Peacock

If you want to be more in control of which events you watch at certain times, NBC streaming service Peacock will show all the events both live and on demand.

NBCOlympics.com and NBCSports.com

If you have a cable TV log-in, you can stream live events on both NBCOlympics.com and NBCSports.com.

More options

Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV will broadcast Olympics events.


New Winter Olympics events

There are seven new sports at the Beijing Winter Olympics:

Monobob

This women-only bobsled event is a one-person show. The athlete must push their bobsled, leap into it at the right time and drive it down the icy track. Women also race in two-person bobsled and men race in two- and four-person bobsled teams, but only women will compete in monobob.

Mixed-team aerials in freestyle skiing

Skiers perform in teams of three, with each team featuring at least one male and one female. Athletes ski down a ramp and do fancy flips and twists in the air. The individual scores are added together, and the highest-scoring team wins. Unlike ski jumping, where the ramp flattens out at the end, the aerials ramp shoots straight up at the end, propelling skiers five stories in the air.

Men’s big air in freestyle skiing
Women’s big air in freestyle skiing

Snowboard big air was already an Olympic event, but now the skiers are getting their shot. In events similar to the mixed-team aerials event described above, skiers attempt their best twists and jumps after skiing down a 60-foot ramp. Big air competition lets the athletes jump three times and adds up the points scored on their best two jumps.

Mixed team relay in short-track speedskating

Several events are offering mixed-gender teams this year, and this short-track speedskating relay is one of them. Four skaters, two men and two women, make up each team and they cover 18 laps of the track, with each skater racing twice during the relay.

Mixed team event in ski jumping

The mixed ski jumping teams, like speedskating, will feature four athletes — two men and two women. Each skier jumps once, and jumps are scored for distance traveled and the style of the jump.

Mixed team snowboard cross

Snowboard cross is a race that includes big air jumps and high-banked turns and features numerous athletes competing on the same course at one time. Each team has one male and one female. When the first athlete finishes the course, the start gate automatically opens for their teammate to rush down the hill.


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Workers prepare the ice at the Capital Indoor Stadium ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.


François-Xavier Marit/AFP via Getty Images

What are the COVID-19 precautions?

The Olympics are being held in Beijing, China, about 650 miles (about 1050 km) north of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first discovered two years ago. You can bet no one involved with the Olympics is forgetting that fact.

The organizers of the Games are enforcing some extremely strict rules:

  • Only residents of China can attend the Games.
  • Spectators are allowed to clap, but asked not to shout their support.
  • Support staff, including waiters and cleaners, are not allowed to leave the Olympic venues to visit their families.
  • Olympic participants leaving the Games area to travel to other parts of China must spend at least a week in quarantine, followed by at least two weeks of isolation at home.

Who can attend the Olympics?

As noted above, no non-Chinese spectators will be allowed to attend. The New York Times reports that “vaccinated foreign athletes, trainers, coaches, referees, journalists and a few others” can enter the country without the usual two-plus weeks of quarantine followed by one week of home confinement.


Where is the next Winter Olympics after Beijing?

The next Winter Olympics are scheduled for Feb. 6 to 22, 2026, in the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. It’s the only future Winter Olympics location announced yet.

As for the Summer Olympics, Paris will host in 2024, Los Angeles in 2028, and Brisbane, Australia, in 2032.

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