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Beijing Winter Olympics: How to watch the opening ceremony and more

Get ready for seven new sports, including monobob -- a bobsled event for women only. The Games start tonight.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
6 min read
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It seems like the Olympics just ended, but the Beijing Winter Games are already here. The pandemic pushed the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics back a year, which means the Winter Games are starting a mere six months after the summer competition ended.

The Tokyo Games were a well-publicized struggle. Despite tight quarantine rules, many athletes and other people connected to the games tested positive for COVID-19.


Workers set up the Winter Olympics-themed Chinese knot installation at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, China.

Wang Xin/VCG via Getty Images

The Beijing Games are already complicated for several reasons. The US, Australia, Britain and Canada have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games, meaning top government officials won't attend. The boycott is meant to protest China's human rights issues. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, specifically cited "genocide and crimes against humanity." But the boycott only affects politicians who would be attending as spectators. The countries are still sending their athletes.

Here's a rundown on the information you need to know about the upcoming event:

When are the Winter Olympics?

The Beijing Winter Olympics held the opening ceremonies earlier today, Feb. 4. Closing ceremonies will take place Sunday, Feb. 20. You can watch the tape-delayed ceremonies starting at 8 p.m. local time, Friday, Feb. 4. 

How to watch the Olympics

Beijing is 8 hours ahead of the UK time zone, 13 hours ahead of the US Eastern time zone and 16 hours ahead of the US Pacific time zone. (And for those in Australia in the AEDT time zone, Beijing is 3 hours behind.) Some evening events will air live in the morning US time. The full schedule of events is already live. Here's how to view the competition in a variety of different ways:


NBC is airing the Games, so if you get your local NBC broadcast channel, you can watch the Olympics there. That includes a totally free option if you live near a broadcast channel and have an over-the-air antenna.

Streaming options available

NBCOlympics.com and NBCSports.com

If you have a cable TV login, you can stream live events on both NBCOlympics.com and NBCSports.com.

If you want to be more in control of which events you watch at certain times, NBC's streaming service Peacock will show all the events both live and on demand, including the opening ceremony on Feb. 4. You will, however, need one of the service's Premium plans to watch the games live and stream on demand. The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium Plus plan costs $10 a month. Note that you'll still have to watch ads during live events with the $10 plan; ad-free applies only to on-demand content.

Read our Peacock review.

More options for streaming

Most live TV streaming services offer NBC, so they're also good ways to watch the Games. 

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC, which is needed to watch the Winter Olympics. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to make sure NBC is one of the local networks available in your area. 

Read our YouTube TV review.

Sling TV's $35-a-month Blue plan includes NBC, but only in a handful of markets. Enter your address here to see if those local channels are available where you live.

Read our Sling TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $70 a month and includes NBC, the channel airing the Olympics. Click the "View channels in your area" link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code and confirm you will have access to NBC in your area. 

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

Formerly AT&T TV, DirecTV Stream's basic $70-a-month package includes NBC in many markets. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live. Read our DirecTV Stream review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and has NBC in many markets. Click here to see which local channels you get. Read our FuboTV review.

International viewers wanting to stream Winter Olympics events

For folks outside of the US, or those looking for less US-centric viewing options, there are other opportunities for viewing the games. You can opt to seek out international streams using a VPN. For more information about VPNs and our recommendations for protecting your online information, check out our curated list of the best VPN services of 2022.

New Winter Olympics events

There are seven new sports at the Beijing Winter Olympics:


This women-only bobsled event is a one-person show. The athlete must push the bobsled, leap into it at the right time and drive it down the icy track. Women also race in two-person bobsled and men race in two- and four-person bobsled team events, but only women will compete in monobob.

Mixed-team aerials in freestyle skiing

Skiers perform in teams of three, with each team featuring at least one male and one female. Athletes ski down a ramp and do fancy flips and twists in the air. The individual scores are added together, and the highest-scoring team wins. Unlike ski jumping, where the ramp flattens out at the end, the aerials ramp shoots straight up at the end, propelling skiers five stories in the air.

Big air in freestyle skiing (men's and women's)

Snowboard big air was already an Olympic event, but now the skiers are getting their shot. In events similar to the mixed-team aerials event described above, skiers attempt their best twists and jumps after skiing down a 60-foot ramp. The big air competition lets the athletes jump three times and adds up the points scored on their best two jumps.

Mixed team relay in short-track speedskating

Several events are offering mixed-gender teams this year, and this short-track speedskating relay is one of them. Four skaters, two men and two women, make up each team and they cover 18 laps of the track, with each skater racing twice during the relay.

Mixed team event in ski jumping

The mixed ski jumping teams, like speedskating, will feature four athletes -- two men and two women. Each skier jumps once, and jumps are scored for distance traveled and the style of the jump. 

Mixed team snowboard cross

Snowboard cross is a race that includes big air jumps and high-banked turns and features numerous athletes competing on the same course at one time. Each team has one male and one female. When the first athlete finishes the course, the start gate automatically opens for their teammate to rush down the hill. 


Workers prepare the ice at the Capital Indoor Stadium ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

François-Xavier Marit/AFP via Getty Images

What are the COVID-19 precautions?

The Olympics are being held in Beijing, about 650 miles (about 1,050 km) north of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first discovered two years ago. You can bet no one involved with the Olympics is forgetting that fact.

The organizers of the Games are enforcing some extremely strict rules:   

  • The original plan was that only residents of China can attend the Games. But as of Jan. 17, that plan has been adjusted. Now that Beijing has reported its first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19, the general public in China can no longer buy tickets. "Given the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators, it has been decided that tickets should not be sold anymore but be part of an adapted programme that will invite groups of spectators to be present on site during the Games," the International Olympic Committee said in a statement on Monday
  • Spectators are allowed to clap, but asked not to shout their support.

  • Support staff, including waiters and cleaners, are not allowed to leave the Olympic venues to visit their families.

  • Olympic participants leaving the Games area to travel to other parts of China must spend at least a week in quarantine, followed by at least two weeks of isolation at home.

Who can attend the Olympics?

As noted above, the rules are shifting as far as which Chinese residents can actually watch the event, and groups of spectators will have to be invited to attend. As far as non-Chinese residents, The New York Times reports that "vaccinated foreign athletes, trainers, coaches, referees, journalists and a few others" can enter the country without the usual two-plus weeks of quarantine followed by one week of home confinement.

Where is the next Winter Olympics after Beijing?

The next Winter Olympics are scheduled for Feb. 6 to 22, 2026, in the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo. It's the only future Winter Olympics location announced yet.

As for the Summer Olympics, Paris will host in 2024, Los Angeles in 2028, and Brisbane, Australia, in 2032.

CNET's Matt Elliott and Adrian Marlow contributed to this article.