Speed Reads

Winter Olympics 2022

Chinese athlete featured in Opening Ceremony ritual is reportedly of Uyghur heritage

One of the Chinese athletes chosen to light the Olympic cauldron and mark the official start of competition on Friday is reportedly of Uyghur heritage, The New York Times reports.

The decision to feature the athlete — Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a cross-country skier — in such a quintessential opening ceremony ritual "confronted head on one of the biggest criticisms of China's role as host," the Times writes.

Officials from multiple countries have denounced the Chinese Communist Party-led "mass detention and re-education campaign targeting Uyghur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang," writes the Times. The U.S. has declared such actions genocidal, and (alongside other nations) opted for a diplomatic boycott of the Games in protest.

The "provocative choice" to feature Yilamujiang aside, the "climactic moment" was also an homage to China's Olympic history in that it featured a man — Zhao Jiawen — and a woman working together, adds the Times.