Entertainment Sports The Most Stunning Photos from the Beijing Olympics' Opening Ceremonies Let the Games begin! See all of the must-see photos from this year's opening ceremony By Diane J. Cho Diane J. Cho Diane J. Cho was the Features Editor of PEOPLE Digital from 2019 to 2022. She worked at the brand for nearly four years covering news, features, human interest, evergreen, holiday gift guides and more. She launched the How I Parent and What It's Really Like to Be …. digital series and has interviewed several celebrities and influential leaders within the entertainment industry. Prior to joining PEOPLE, Diane worked at Bustle, VH1 and Complex. She received her bachelor's degree in Journalism from Rutgers University and her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School. People Editorial Guidelines Published on February 4, 2022 07:44 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos 01 of 26 FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT/AFP via Getty Images The Opening Ceremony pre-show kicked off with an aerial view of the National Stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest," in host city Beijing. This is the first year the Winter Olympics are taking place in China, and Beijing will make history as the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. 02 of 26 Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images Dancers performed with Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen. The adorable panda is the national animal of China and in Mandarin, his name means "ice" (Bing) and "robust and lively" (Dwen). 03 of 26 JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images The stadium filled with excitement as dancers and Bing Dwen Dwen put on a show ahead of the Opening Ceremony. 04 of 26 Matthias Hangst/Getty Images President of China Xi Jinping greeted the crowd as the Opening Ceremony began at Beijing National Stadium. The country is under a microscope during the Games, not only because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but because of reported human rights violations happening within the nation. The United States announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games several weeks ago, with other countries following suit. Why? The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a province in northwest China, is home to various ethnic groups — including 12 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim groups — who've faced systematic oppression by Chinese authorities, according to human rights organizations and detailed media accounts. 05 of 26 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images The formal introduction to the Games began with performers creating a stunning LED light display, meant to represent giant willows. 06 of 26 ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP via Getty Images The performance was equally as impressive and stunning from above. 07 of 26 David Ramos/Getty Images A gorgeous display of fireworks lit up the sky as LED flowers bloomed from below. 08 of 26 Costfoto/Future Publishing via Getty Images The spectacular light show could be seen from above the Bird's Nest and all throughout the city. 09 of 26 Elsa/Getty Images Children carried the National Flag of the People's Republic of China into the stadium, passing it to people representing China's 56 ethnic groups before handing it to members of the armed forces. 10 of 26 Alex Pantling/Getty Images The athletes looked from the stands as the flag was raised. 11 of 26 Matthias Hangst/Getty Images Performers appeared as ice hockey players, representing athletes competing in one of the many sports that make up the Winter Games. 12 of 26 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images An ice cube projected on the floor displayed graphics that honored every Winter Games in history, starting from Chamonix in 1924. 13 of 26 Lintao Zhang/Getty Images The ice disintegrated and revealed the five Olympic Rings to kick off the Parade of Nations. The parade has been featured since 1908, and gives athletes an opportunity to walk with fellow competitors under their nation's flag. 14 of 26 David Ramos/Getty Images Team Jamaica entered the stadium with flag bearers Benjamin Alexander and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian leading the way. 15 of 26 Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Three-time Olympic speed skater Brittany Bowe and five-time Olympic curler John Shuster led Team USA. Bowe was selected to replace elected flag bearer Elana Meyers Taylor, a 37-year-old bobsledder who has won medals in the past three Winter Olympics, after Taylor tested positive for COVID-19 upon her arrival in China. Shuster made history as the first curler to carry the U.S. flag during the Opening Ceremony, according to USA Curling. 16 of 26 Alex Pantling/Getty Images During the Opening Ceremony, Shuster and Bowe spoke with NBC News about getting to lead Team USA and what the honor meant to them. "Leading this amazing group of athletes, this is so cool," said Shuster. Added Bowe: "This is an absolute honor of a lifetime. I can't think of a more powerful and uniting moment as an athlete and as an American. And it's an absolute honor to lead Team USA into the Opening Ceremony." 17 of 26 David Ramos/Getty Images Team USA stopped to pose for a photo as the parade continued. 18 of 26 David Ramos/Getty Images Members of Team USA snapped photos and videos on their phones as they walked through the stadium. 19 of 26 Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Team Belarus had the crowd cheering as flag bearers Ignat Golovatsiuk and Hanna Nifantava led in front. 20 of 26 David Ramos/Getty Images Eve Muirhead and Dave Ryding guided Team Great Britain into the parade. 21 of 26 JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images East Timor's flag bearer Yohan Goncalves Goutt took front and center as three other athletes followed close behind. 22 of 26 Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images Team Canada arrived in big numbers as flag bearers Marie-Philip Poulin and Charles Hamelin raised their hands and flag to greet the crowd. 23 of 26 Matthias Hangst/Getty Images The lively audience — 40 percent of the stadium's capacity due to COVID-19 concerns — was up on their feet, cheering for the athletes and waiving flags of their home countries. 24 of 26 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images Performers created a breathtaking scene inside the stadium as all eyes focused on the awe-inspiring Olympic Rings. 25 of 26 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images Names of every participating country were held high on LED snowflakes, chosen to represent the differences in nations but unity of the Games. 26 of 26 Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images Wearing traditional American Samoa garments, bobsleigh and skeleton star Nathan Crumpton carried the territory's flag around the stadium. "I'm honored to have qualified for the Winter Olympics and to represent American Samoa, as well as a region of the world that does not often participate in the Winter Games," Crumpton said after qualifying for the Olympics, per Inside the Games. "This has been a long journey, over a decade in the making, with many setbacks, financial constraints, and injuries along the way," he added, according to Inside the Games. "But I'm excited to see it through to the finish line." Crumpton is the sole athlete representing American Samoa for the Winter Games. He is the first athlete to do so in the last 28 years.