National News Recap: Beijing Olympics begin, Washington NFL team changes name 

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Federica Brignone of Italy makes a turn during the first run of the women’s giant slalom at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing. Photo by Luca Bruno/AP Photo.

On Friday, Feb. 4, the 2022 Winter Olympics began in Bejing, China. Opened by Chinese president Xi Jinping, 91 nations and over 2,800 athletes will compete in a variety of winter sports. 2022 will be the second time Beijing has hosted the Olympic Games, previously hosting the Summer Olympics in 2008. 

As of Feb. 6, the Russian Olympic Committee is leading the games with five medals, including one gold according to CBS Sports. In second and third are Norway and Austria, respectively. The United States has won two silver medals and is ranked in 11th place. 

“The United States is successful at both Games. In the Winter Olympics, the country is second with 307 total and 105 golds. The United States’ best haul at the Winter Games was at the 2002 Salt Lake City games,” CBS Sports said. 

This year, the first U.S. medal was won by Julia Marino in slopestyle snowboarding, a USA Today article reports. Marino, a native of Westport, Connecticut, initially came in 28th place during qualifying runs for the event but managed to earn a silver medal, her first ever. Marino will also be participating in the women’s big air event on Feb. 14. 

‘It’s a run I’ve been wanting to put down for a long time,” Marino told NBC afterwards. “This season, I didn’t necessarily get to put that one down. To do it here just means a whole lot different than anything else and I’m just so over the moon to have landed that top to bottom”’ in an interview with USA Today. 

Viewership of the games has noticeably plummeted said a Reuters article, noting how the estimated 17 million views was far less than the viewership of the 2018 games. This is claimed to be the result of diplomatic tension over the games, as well as a lack of Americans watching the games by television. Diplomatic boycotts were issued by the United States, Canada and other countries against the games due to concerns of human rights abuse in China’s Xinjiang region. 

“For Beijing, NBC said it is doing more to simplify the viewing experience, addressing criticism that last summer’s content was difficult to find across the company’s many platforms, including its Peacock streaming service” Reuters said. 

In America, the Washington Football Team revealed their new name, the Washington Commanders, on Feb. 2, according to National Public Radio. Previously known as the Washington Redskins, the NFL team changed its name following the protests against systemic racism, which prompted the changing of several controversial or insensitive names across the country. 

“The team scrapped its previous name — the Washington Redskins — in July 2020 after years of pressure to do away with it because of its racist connotations against Native Americans, a name it had for 87 years,” NPR said. 

The Commander’s owner, founder of Snyder Communications Dan Snyder, had resisted changing the name since 2013, despite lobbying efforts by indigenous groups. Only threats from the team’s sponsor, FedEx, to sever ties with Snyder prompted the change. 

The change was seen as a major victory for indigenous activist groups, which hope it will influence the removal of other team names and mascots based on stereotypes of Native Americans, according to a Washington Post article

Sydney Harjo, a 76 year old activist, spoke with NPR about her experience with the word. 

“I had lots of things in my personal life using that word,” Harjo, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, said in an interview with NPR. “When I was a girl, you barely could make it through your young life without getting attacked by a bunch of white people — whether they were boys or girls or men or women. And they would always go to that word.”’  

The Commander’s new uniforms, as shown in a series of pictures from the team’s Twitter, retain the dark red, brown, gold and black colors previously used by the team. 

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