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Let the Games begin!

The 2022 Beijing Olympics are set to officially kick off on Friday, Feb. 4, with the Opening Ceremony. At the event, teams from around the globe will represent their countries as they prepare to compete.

While the ceremony comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and is likely to be more subdued given the health crisis, it’s shaping up to be more meaningful than ever. Curling star John Shuster and speed skater Brittany Bowe will lead the U.S. team as flag bearers during the ceremony. Brittany actually stepped in after one of the official flag bearers, bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, tested positive for coronavirus and therefore cannot walk during the event.

While in years past only one person was selected for this role, the International Olympic Committee made a change during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to promote inclusivity. “With 49 percent female participation, Tokyo 2020 will be the first gender-equal Olympic Games ever,” the committee previously shared. “For the first time, there will be at least one female and one male athlete in each of the teams participating in the Games.”

Basketball star Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez did the honors in Tokyo.

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