The most political moment of the 2022 Winter Olympics is upon us.

The opening ceremony, which start Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. in Beijing, will give Chinese President Xi Jinping his best chance to use the games to burnish his country’s image. Almost immediately afterward, the competitions will take over the spotlight, but for a few hours on Friday, China will have the attention of a worldwide audience to itself.

"The Olympics can be useful for bolstering China’s image because they draw attention from viewers who don’t necessarily pay lots of attention to global politics and foreign policy, where coverage of China’s behavior has been much more critical,” said Sheena Greitens, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin whose research focuses on East Asia.