(BEIJING) — The 2022 Winter Olympics kicked off in China’s capital this week with the opening ceremony on Friday, marking the official start of the Games.

While preliminary competitions have already begun in curling, ice hockey, luge and various skiing events, the opening ceremony is a chance for the host country to make a statement to the world with an unforgettable display and performance. The much-awaited spectacle is taking place at the National Stadium in Beijing starting at 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) and is being broadcast live on NBC.

The United States has imposed a diplomatic boycott of this year’s Beijing Olympics. While American athletes will still participate, President Joe Biden’s administration will not send an official delegation to the Games due to China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity” in the northwestern Xinjiang region, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last December. The move was swiftly followed by Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Here are key moments from the opening ceremony. All times Eastern:

Feb 04, 7:04 am
Opening ceremony kicks off

The opening ceremony for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing has begun.

The event is taking place at the National Stadium in Beijing. The 80,000-seat stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, will also hold the closing ceremony on Feb. 20. It was the same venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics, which was the last time China hosted the Games.

Chinese authorities tightened travel restrictions for Beijing ahead of the Games, requiring all travelers to the city to take a nucleic acid test within 72 hours of entry as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Moreover, the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee announced that no public tickets to the Games will be sold due to the “grave and complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators.” Instead, groups of spectators will be invited to the Games, and “the organizers expect that these spectators will strictly abide by the COVID-19 countermeasures before, during and after each event,” the committee said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.