Winter Olympics
The tweets about China playing "Imagine" during the 2022 Olympic opening ceremony call out the hypoc...

People Are Calling Out This Cringeworthy Choice At The Olympic Opening Ceremony

It’s not a good look.

by Collette Reitz
Andrew Milligan - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

Following the lead of quite a few Olympic Games before it, the 2022 Winter Olympic opening ceremony included a rendition of “Imagine.” The song has become synonymous with both the COVID-19 pandemic and the games, and viewers took to Twitter to point out why host country China’s use of the song wasn’t a great look. These tweets about “Imagine” at the 2022 Olympics focus on what people called “China’s hypocrisy” in contrast to the song’s meaning and lyrics. Specifically, Twitter users called out China’s alleged human rights abuses against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, a territory in northwest China. In June 2021, representatives of the Chinese government called the allegations "the lie of the century."

There’s a lot to unpack following the song played on Feb. 4 during the opening ceremony. John Lennon’s “Imagine” includes lyrics like “Imagine all the people livin' life in peace,” and that didn’t seem to line up with allegations that China is committing what the United States and several other nations call “genocide.” According to a July 2021 New York Times article, the U.S. State Department alleged the Chinese government is committing genocide through repression of Uyghur people and alleged internment camps and forced sterilization.

China responded to the allegations in June 2021, calling it a “so-called allegation of ‘genocide.’” Hua Chunying, China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs said of the allegations, “China deplores and rejects it.”

Still, the United States’ stance led to a political boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics, and during the opening ceremony, people had a lot to say about China’s use of “Imagine.”

Of course, people have been rolling their eyes at “Imagine” performances since the infamous celebrity montage in March 2020. The song was again performed during the opening ceremony for the 2021 Summer Olympics.

Beijing’s take on “Imagine” during the 2022 opening ceremony included a cover of the song that played while performers skated on an LED screen. TBH, it was actually pretty mesmerizing to watch, but it was difficult for viewers to get past the incongruence of China’s alleged genocide as compared to the intent of the song.

Including the United States, nine total nations are boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, and Japan joined in a boycott shortly after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the decision in early December 2021.

Although the countries’ athletes can still participate, the boycotting nations did not send diplomatic representatives. The Winter Games are officially underway, though, and fans will watch their favorite athletes compete as everyone navigates how to enjoy the games with so much else — including a global pandemic — happening at the same time.