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Games' goodwill a real winter warmer

China Daily | Updated: 2022-02-11 09:03
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Feel-good factor abounds at Beijing Winter Olympics as new friendships formed and old acquaintances reunite

Team USA curlers Christopher Plys and Victoria Persinger show off the commemorative pins gifted to them by their Chinese opponents Ling Zhi (second left) and Fan Suyuan following their mixed doubles match at Beijing 2022 on Feb 5. REUTERS

Just a week into Beijing 2022, the feel-good moments are already piling up. On sport's biggest stage of all, rivals, teammates and volunteers have been feeling the love to embrace the core Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.

The exchange of goodwill gestures between two pairs of American and Chinese curlers exemplified the friendly atmosphere.

After the United States beat China 7-5 in the mixed doubles on Saturday, Fan Suyuan and Ling Zhi presented their American rivals, Christopher Plys and Vicky Persinger, with a set of commemorative pins featuring Games mascot Bing Dwen Dwen.

"They're just beautiful, something super unique. These will be on my desk for a very, very long time," Plys said.

The four competitors posed for the cameras together while showing off the pin sets. The American duo then posted the photos on social media, saying they were "honored to receive these beautiful Beijing 2022 pin sets in a wonderful display of sportsmanship by our Chinese counterparts".

In return, the American curlers gave pins to Ling and Fan, but they wanted to add "something special "for their newfound friends. "We still have to go back to the (Olympic) Village and find something, a good jersey, or put something together," Plys said on Monday.

Ling said he would like to invite Plys to his hometown of Harbin in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, a city boasting a long history of ice and snow sports. Plys once competed at a tournament in Harbin.

"Chris told me he likes Harbin. He mentioned the Harbin Ice and Snow World. I sincerely welcome him to travel to Harbin when the pandemic is over," Ling said.

Warmest welcome

Teenage American snowboarder Tessa Maud felt the friendly vibes the moment she walked into the National Stadium, aka the Bird's Nest, during Friday's grand opening ceremony.

As the 18-year-old and her teammates entered the arena, volunteers greeted them with open arms. One volunteer, Sun Zeyu from Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University, responded to a "Ni hao! (hello!) from Maud with: "Welcome to China!"

Maud posted a vlog on Tiktok in which she talked about how she kept watching videos of the opening ceremony.

"I was crying because it was the cutest thing ever, and that moment was just so crazy, like a feeling I've never experienced," she said.

"All the volunteers were so sweet and so kind. They are so happy we are here, and we feel so welcomed," she continued in a choked voice.

Maud later received a letter from Sun, who thanked Maud for her kindness and for helping "record the most unforgettable moment" of his life.

"When COVID-19 is completely over, I sincerely invite you to come here again, no quarantine, no virus, you may find a more interesting and more beautiful China!" Sun wrote on social media.

"I can be your tour guide, and tell you 'Welcome to China' again without a face mask."

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