Winter Olympic mascot stars in opening ceremony, China’s women’s soccer team wins Asian Cup, child cook dazzles with Lunar New Year feast, amateur curling takes off—it’s Viral Week
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games began on February 4 in Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium with an opening ceremony directed by Zhang Yimou, who also directed the opening ceremony for the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. The 100-minute show featured 3,000 performers, 40,000 screens paved on the ground inside the stadium, and motion capture technology to synchronize the movements of performers and the digital visual effects. On Saturday, China won its first gold of the Games in the short-track speed skating mixed team relay, a new Olympic event.
The Winter Olympic Games mascot Bing Dwen Dwen (冰墩墩) went viral after his appearance at the opening ceremony, with stocks of merchandise sold out online and offline. Videos on social media showed hundreds lining up in front of a licensed flagship merchandise store in Beijing for up to five hours in the cold to get the mascot souvenirs.
A performance during CCTV’s annual Spring Festival Gala TV show where performers bend 90-degrees backward from the waist has inspired imitators on social media—with users dubbing it the “blue green waist challenge.” However, orthopedic doctors have advised non-professional dancers against the move. The original performance, “Poetic Dance: The Journey of a Legendary Landscape Painting,” was inspired by a famous classical painting.
As the Winter Olympics opened, videos from Dalian, Liaoning province, showed people holding makeshift “curling” competitions using pots, woks, and mops on icy ground. The Chinese name for curling is binghu (冰壶), or “ice pot,” which may have been the inspiration for their creative choice of equipment.
A video posted on Weibo of a disheveled woman in rural Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, tied to a chain in a shed and supposedly the mother of eight children, went viral online. In the video, the woman seems to be in an unstable mental condition and is unable to communicate with the video taker. Many online suspected the woman to be a victim of abuse or human trafficking, though the local government subsequently carried out an investigation and posted a statement saying the woman was chained because of violent tendencies associated with her mental health condition, and that she was legally married to a local resident surnamed Dong. After journalists and netizens pushed further, a second statement from local authorities claimed the woman was a homeless beggar taken in by Dong’s father, and later married to Dong. The statement admitted negligence in registering the marriage since the woman didn’t have valid ID information. A criminal investigation is ongoing, but so far no arrest has been made.
China wins Women’s Asian Cup
On the evening of February 6, China Women’s National Football Team staged a stunning comeback to beat South Korea and win the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. China, nicknamed the “Iron Roses,” was two goals behind at halftime, but scored two early in the second half and stormed to victory with a goal in the 93rd minute of the match. The victory marked the first time China has won the Women’s Asian Cup in 16 years, and the ninth time they have been crowned champions in the history of the competition. The victory lifted the spirits of China’s soccer fans, as it comes amidst a crisis in the men’s game in the country.
While Team China celebrated its short track speed skating mixed team winning the country’s first gold medal at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, many viewers were also enamored by former national speed skater Wang Meng for her humorous commentary of the event, which included quips on a false-starting athlete (“I guess he wants to get a photo in front of the whole world”) and confidently calling a close finish (“my eyes are a ruler, there’s no need to watch the replay”).
Wang Yuteng, a sixth-grader from Ningbo, Zhejiang province, prepared 20 dishes for his family on Lunar New Year’s Eve, including sweet and sour fish and fried mutton with garlic, prompting amazement from netizens. His mother told the media that Wang, who is just 13 years old, learnt to cook three years ago and often prepares meals for his sister and himself when his parents are busy with work.