In the lead-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics, Chinese officials and state media repeatedly accused the United States and its allies of trying to “sabotage” the Games, lashing out at their diplomatic boycotts over China’s human rights record.
But the past two weeks have shown that it is Russia — China’s close friend and strategic partner — that has ended up partially overshadowing the Games, both in and away from the sporting arena.
Early in the first week, one of the Games’ most watched events, figure skating, was rocked by a doping scandal surrounding Russian skater Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old gold-medal favorite. After a stunning performance on her Olympic debut, Valieva was revealed to have tested positive for a banned substance back in December — an explosive controversy that quickly dominated global media attention of the Games.
And thousands of miles away from Beijing, the massive buildup of Russian military forces near Ukraine’s borders has sent alarm bells ringing across Europe and beyond. Fears of a full-scale invasion by Moscow has put much of the Western world on edge.
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