(TibetanReview.net, Feb16’22) – While Tibetan and other so-called ethnic minority areas as well as Chinese dissidents are being subjected to a scaled-up dose of repression during the ongoing Beijing Winter Olympics, which opened on Feb 4, China has sought to present an inclusive picture of a happily united multi-ethnic country at the Games. And the role assigned for Tibet included participation in the relay torch ceremony, the playing of a popular song music during the Opening Ceremony preshow, and having two athletes in the competitions, both of them failing to make a mark for different reasons.
Among the more than 1200 relay torchbearers from Feb 2 to 4 were two Tibetans: Ngawang Losang Dondrup and Chime Dorje, said China’s online Tibet news service eng.tibet.cn Feb 16.
Ngawang Losang Dondrup, it said, is a Tibetan singer who is currently the choir leader at China Ethnic Song and Dance Ensemble. “As a minority group artist, I am very honored and happy to be as a torchbearer. I will treasure this opportunity and take up the social responsibilities of a torchbearer by spreading passion with my music so that we can move forward together with the world,” the report had him saying.
And Chime Dorje, the report said, is a postal delivery worker from Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. And it had him saying: “on average days I deliver packages to countless households, but today as an Olympic torchbearer, I am entrusted with the task of delivering the Olympic spirit. This significance and the special connection between the Winter Olympics and my snow-paved mail route is truly unique and cherished!”
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And on the evening of Feb 4, the Tibetan music for a popular song titled “Fly” was played vividly during the preshow of the opening ceremony, said another eng.tibet.cn report Feb 16.
“Fly” is a song by the Tibetan rap duo ANU, founded by millennials Gonpa and Payag from Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province. After being uploaded on YouTube, “Fly” has been covered in six different languages. It is also used as the background music for dance performances by many creators. Noting these, the report had Payag expressing belief that “the popularity of the song is evidence that ethnic fusion music can transcend cultural boundaries and shine its own spotlight on the international stage.”
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Yangjin Lhamo, 18, from Chamdo city of Tibet autonomous region would have been the first athlete from the region to make it into the Games. Unfortunately, following a training accident on Feb 7 that led to a fracture of her coccyx, the skier was forced to drop out of the Games. She has since been discharged from hospital and is recovering in Beijing, reported the official chinadaily.com.cn Feb 16.
Yangjin Lhamo had majored in soccer for a number of years at the School of Sports Techniques. She began to train as a snowboard cross athlete after being selected by the General Administration of Sport of China in 2018 and went on to become one of the best female snowboard cross athletes in the region. During the 2021/22 FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup held on Jan 9 in Russia, she scored in Tier 17, earning the best score for Chinese athletes in this round of the Cup, the report said.
Following her accident, the report had her mother, Pema Chozom, saying, “I want to express my sincere thanks to the country for allowing my daughter to become an excellent athlete.”
The other Tibetan athlete in the Winter Games, Ciren Zengdui (also written as Ciren Zhandui [Tsering Damdul]), is the youngest among the PRC’s cross-country skiing athletes, and became the first from the Tibet autonomous region to compete at the Winter Olympics. He finished 63rd in the men’s 15km classic event on Feb 11, the report said.
“Although my performance wasn’t quite good, I am so proud to be the first athlete from Tibet to represent China at the Winter Olympics,” another chinadaily.com.cn report Feb 16 had him saying.
The report said the 18-year-old first trained as a mountain climber but switched to training as a cross-country skier in Sep 2018.
“I’ve learned so much from outstanding athletes from different ethnic groups on the team. We respect each other’s customs. Also, we always celebrate the traditional festivals of different ethnic groups together. It’s just a big family,” he has said, referring to his team members.
The report, titled as “Ethnic diversity makes Chinese cross-country team more united,” said that of the 176 athletes in the Chinese delegation at the Beijing Winter Games, there were 20 from nine ethnic minorities, including Tibetan, Uygur, Manchu, Hui, Kazak and Hani.