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Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony: Abhinav Bindra leads cheer for Arif Khan

Bindra, who won a gold in shooting at the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, was one of the first to cheer for Arif Khan on social media during the traditional Parade of Nations.

Lined up 23rd in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony Parade of Nations, India had to wait a while to see  Mohammad Arif Khan – the sole Indian athlete at this year’s Winter Games – walk out with the tricolour.

And though there were hardly any Indian fans in the stands of the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium at the Chinese capital, Arif Khan’s emergence from the tunnel, wearing a traditional Indian Kullu cap, was met with resounding applause on social media.

Leading the cheer squad for the skier from Jammu and Kashmir was shooter Abhinav Bindra, India’s first-ever individual Olympic gold medallist.

“From Kashmir to the Olympics! Really proud to see Arif Khan, the only athlete representing India at Beijing 2022 carry the tricolour high!” wrote Abhinav Bindra, who won the gold medal in 10m air rifle shooting, incidentally at Beijing 2008.

Abhinav Bindra was also  India’s flag bearer at the Rio 2016 opening ceremony.

Sailor Malav Shroff, who represented India at Athens 2004, and shooter Joydeep Karmakar, a London 2012 participant, were the other Olympians who applauded the 31-year-old Khan from Jammu and Kashmir during the glamorous opening ceremony on Friday evening.

Indian sports fans also chipped in with their wishes.

Alpine skier Arif Khan will compete in the slalom and giant slalom events at Beijing 2022. Tokyo 2020 champion Neeraj Chopra had urged the entire nation to support Arif Khan at Beijing 2022 earlier.

This year’s opening ceremony was a historic occasion for many reasons. Beijing became the first city in the world to host both the Summer (Beijing 2008) and Winter (Beijing 2022) Olympics. The Bird’s Nest hosted the opening ceremonies for both.

Academy award nominated Chinese film-maker Zhang Yimou, who also led the Beijing 2008 Summer Games opening and closing ceremonies, directed the opening ceremony for Beijing 2022 as well. He thus became the first individual to direct opening ceremonies at the Summer and Winter Olympics.

Chinese president Xi Jingping was in attendance for the Beijing 2022 opening ceremony.

By Utathya Nag

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