Winter Olympics opening ceremony: What time it starts, how to watch and what to expect from Beijing
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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic games are now underway in the Chinese capital, with ice sport athletes already starting to compete as the international sports championship begins on Friday February 4.
As with every summer or winter Olympic Games, the world’s biggest sports contest is formally kicked off with an opening ceremony – with countries and teams from around the world gathering to take part in a flag-bearing procession following the lighting of the Olympic flame.
However, with a diplomatic boycott of the Chinese Winter Olympic Games and continuing concerns over the spread of coronavirus, this Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony may look quite different to the large spectacles held in the past.
Read more: Winter Olympics: The 19 Scots to watch in Beijing and the controversy surrounding the host venue
So here’s what you need to know about the opening ceremony of the 24th Winter Olympic Games, including who Team GB’s flagbearers will be, how to watch the opening ceremony live in the UK and what the event is all about.
What is the Olympic opening ceremony?
The opening ceremony is the celebration used to mark the beginning of another summer or winter Olympic Games, with millions tuning in from across the world to watch the opening of the next Olympiad.
It offers an Olympic Games and Paralympic Games host nation the opportunity to showcase their nation’s culture, history, entertainment, achievements and more through dazzling visual displays and performances.
Olympic opening ceremonies also see a number of Olympic opening traditions and rituals performed, including the Games being declared open by the host nation’s head of state, the Olympic flag being carried into the stadium and raised up with the Olympic oath also being spoken aloud by an athlete, judge and coach.
The most important part of any Olympic opening ceremony, however, is the completion of the torch relay from the previous host nation to the next.
This dramatic spectacle, culminating in the lighting of the Olympic flame, also sees the reveal of the celebrity carrying the torch on the final leg of its journey to the torch.
This Winter Olympics, Eve Muirhead and Dave Ryding will share the flag-bearing duties for Team GB at the Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony, with former world curling champion and Scottish curler Muirhead set to fly the Union Jack for the 50 UK athletes and reserves competing at this year’s Winter Olympics.
What time does the Beijing 2022 Opening Ceremony start?
Beijing’s Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony will start at 8pm local time, which translates to 12pm in the UK, 1pm in Central European Time (CET) zones, 7am US Eastern Time (ET) and 4am Pacific Time (PT).
The opening ceremony is set to run for roughly an hour and 40 minutes but could well go on for longer, as Covid restrictions around the event could lead to slower and steadier transitions between performances and different parts of the ceremony.
How to watch the Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony
The opening ceremony will be broadcast live on TV on BBC One from 11:30am on Friday February 4, as well as on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website.
The BBC’s Beijing 2022 coverage will span the full range of the games, from February 4 to 20, across BBC TV, Red Button, iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds.
Eurosport subscribers will also be able to watch the Winter Olympics 2022 Opening Ceremony live on Eurosport 1 or stream it on Discovery+.
Where is the Winter Olympics 2022 opening ceremony located?
The opening ceremony of the 24th Winter Olympic Games will see the lighting of the Olympic flame and opening of the games take place at the Beijing International Stadium, known commonly as the Bird’s Nest stadium.
Beijing’s Bird Nest stadium was famously designed for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games which took place in the summer of that year and was designed by artist Ai Weiwei, architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron and the Chinese Architecture and Design Research Group.
While the Bird’s Nest stadium has a capacity of 80,000 people, strict Covid protocols on the Winter Olympics 2022 mean that only ‘selected’ local Chinese residents will be in the seats watching the opening ceremony and it will be mostly empty.