OLYMPICS

2008, 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing see many differences

Feb 20, 2022, 11:05 PM | Updated: Feb 14, 2023, 12:23 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 now 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 5 TV Live

Olympics

"Team USA uniforms celebrate classic styles that are made to be loved and endure for generations," ...

Alex Rees, CNN

Team USA’s new Olympic uniforms revealed

This year's Team USA uniform was inspired by the destination of the 2024 Games, otherwise known as the fashion capital of the world.

1 day ago

Olympian Clayton Yong and many others took part in a 6-mile run along the Jordan River Trail in Sou...

Alex Cabrero

Elite Running Program credited for producing Utah Olympians competing in 2024 Paris Games

Olympian Clayton Young credits his success to an increased emphasis on the running culture in Utah, and a big part of that is to the Elite Run Program.

4 days ago

The Olympic rings are seen on the Eiffel Tower Friday, June 7, 2024, in Paris. The Paris Olympics o...

Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press

IOC gives 14 Russians, 11 Belarusians neutral status for Paris Olympics in first round of decisions

The IOC approved 14 athletes from Russia and 11 Belarusians with neutral status to compete at the Paris Olympics in a first list from some sports published Saturday.

4 days ago

Salt Lake Tri Club training for the running part of the race....

Tamara Vaifanua

Get in the Games: Triathlons push athletes to their limits

The combination of swimming, biking, and running make up the Olympic sport of triathlons. It’s an individual sport, but some athletes prefer training with a team.

5 days ago

The 2002 Olympic cauldron at the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza at the University of Utah in...

Lisa Riley Roche

Utah is now one vote away from hosting the 2034 Winter Games. Here’s what just happened

Utah’s bid to host the 2034 Winter Games is headed to a final vote by the International Olympic Committee in July.

7 days ago

The Olympic rings at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. The Salt Lake Cit...

Eliza Pace

Salt Lake City 2034 Olympics expected to cost $2.83 billion, funded without state or local taxes

The leaders of the Salt Lake City-Utah Olympic Committee announced the operations costs of the 2034 Games would be an estimated $2.83 billion, all funded without any local or state taxes.

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

2008, 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing see many differences