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Commentary: Beijing 2022 boycott******
BEIJING, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- With the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games now less than 100 days away, China is ready to welcome athletes from around the world to showcase their performances on ice and snow, and athletes are sweating on their preparations ahead of the four-yearly sporting extravaganza.
Less than half a year after the conclusion of the Tokyo Olympic Games, which was postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olympic family will reconvene in China, under the new Olympic motto of "Faster, Higher, Stronger - Together" in a world where the pandemic still rages.
But there are also some distractions, as a handful of people have called for a boycott of the 2022 Games, which is a total contradiction to the fundamental logic behind the Olympic Games and is used merely as a tool for politicization.
The Olympic Charter is the codification of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism, Rules and Bye-laws adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and governs the organization, action and operation of the Olympic Movement and sets forth the conditions for the celebration of the Olympic Games.
Known as the world's greatest celebration of humanity, the Olympic Games are the exclusive property of the IOC, as stated in the Olympic Charter.
"The honor and responsibility of hosting the Olympic Games are entrusted by the IOC, in principle, to a city, which is elected as the host of the Olympic Games," read the latest edition of the Olympic Charter, which took effect as of July 17, 2020.
From this perspective, every host country including China contributes to the Olympic Movement throughout the process of bidding for, preparing for and hosting the Olympic Games.
Therefore, a boycott of Beijing 2022 on so-called human rights grounds is not against China itself, but actually targets the Olympic Movement and the global community.
As Beijing 2022 nears, enthusiasm towards the Games from athletes and sporting organizations has been growing.
John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), advised against a boycott of the Olympic Games and reaffirmed that Australian athletes will take part in the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022.
Coates cited IOC President Thomas Bach's remarks that "A boycott of the Olympic Games has never achieved anything" and said he agreed to that.
Coates added that having athletes from all the National Olympic Committees and from the IOC Refugee Olympic Team "united in competition, living together, exchanging opinions, sharing their life stories and dreams - that really matters. What matters even more is the rest of the world watching this. Watching how the Olympics creates an atmosphere of friendship, of understanding, of respect and of solidarity."
And for athletes, four years of hard work is coming to fruition.
"That is something I am dreaming about right now: being able to compete in every event in China," said American alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who has two Olympic gold medals and 70 World Cup victories to her name.
Russian-Polish figure skater Ekaterina Kurakova, who has booked her place at Beijing 2022, expressed her happiness at "the greatest dream come true."
Jenni Saarinen finished fifth in the women's singles event at the 2021 Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy at the Capital Gymnasium, where figure skating and short track speed skating competitions of Beijing 2022 will be hosted.
"Everything here makes me excited. I hope I can compete here next year," said the Finnish.
There are also others who hope to make history at Beijing 2022.
After being named in Great Britain's bobsleigh squad, London 2012 long jump gold medalist Greg Rutherford is aiming to become the first British athlete to win a medal at both Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
After retiring from athletics in 2018, Rutherford has undergone intense training and a series of tests to make into the British bobsleigh squad.
"I know most people believe it is impossible to go from never having attempted a sport to winning an Olympic medal in under a year, but I 100 percent disagree," Rutherford told media.
"I'm coming back, and I intend to make history."
When the Beijing Winter Olympics opens on February 4, 2022, the global community is set to fix their eyes on China and expect a "fantastic, extraordinary and excellent" Games.
For those protesters against the Games, please save your breath and enjoy the sporting show. Enditem
Western countries lift COVID******
More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the global infections and deaths have waxed and waned in different parts of the world.
As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus appeared more contagious and less lethal, several Western countries, where cases have been falling in recent weeks, decided to lift their restrictions.
In its latest report issued on Tuesday, the World Health Organization said the number of new weekly COVID-19 cases increased by 8 percent last week, as compared to the week prior to it, after "a consistent decrease" in the caseload since the end of January.
"The number of new deaths continued a decreasing trend," globally down by 17 percent last week as compared to the week from February 28 to March 6, the WHO added.
In the United States, the worst-hit country with the highest caseload and the most deaths in the world, President Joe Biden called on Americans to return to the office and "fill our great downtowns again" in his State of the Union Address earlier this month.
The United States has recorded around 79 million cases and over 960,000 deaths, while daily cases continue to drop, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We currently have about 35,000 cases in this country. We expect some fluctuation, especially at this relatively low level, and, certainly, that to increase," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on Monday.
Across the Atlantic, the British government said Monday that all remaining COVID-19 international travel restrictions will end Friday to make going on holiday easier for the Easter school vacation.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes will mean people "can travel just like in the good old days."
Britain recorded an average of 73,310 cases per day last week, according to COVID-19 statistics from The New York Times. The country's caseload has increased by 77 percent from the average two weeks ago, while deaths have fallen by 10 percent.
France also lifted most coronavirus bans on Monday, ending the need to wear masks in schools, offices and shops, and allowing the unvaccinated back into bars, restaurants and cinemas.
Official data showed COVID-19 cases in France have increased by 23 percent from the average two weeks ago, while deaths have decreased by 37 percent.
On Tuesday, Dutch Health Minister Ernst Kuiper announced that the government would further scale down COVID-19 rules from next Wednesday. The mask obligation in public transport will disappear, and a negative test is no longer required at events with more than 500 participants.
In Oceania, daily COVID-19 cases have been falling in Australia, but still rising in New Zealand.
Australia said on Tuesday that it is about to ease its entry ban for international cruise ships next month, bringing an end to all major COVID-19 travel bans. Last month, Australia reopened its airports to vaccinated international travellers.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday that the country was "ready to welcome the world back" as the nation continued to ease its coronavirus restrictions.
"Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop COVID-19 two years ago. It did the job we needed. But now that we're highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it's now safe to open up," she said.