BEIJING- Internationally acclaimed Chinese film director Zhang Yimou will oversee the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, state media said on Friday.

The Oscar-nominated director of "Raise the Red Lantern", "Hero" and "The House of Flying Daggers" is leading a team to design the show due to take place on Feb. 4, the official Xinhua news agency said. Zhang also directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Rehearsals are underway for a pared down ceremony, without the large-scale artistic performances that marked the 2008 programme, state television said.

Rather, technology will be used to make the opening ceremony "ethereal and romantic", state television quoted Zhang as saying.

The program is designed to show the beauty of nature, humanity and sport, and also inspire confidence in a pandemic ravaged world, it added.

Zhang, 71, told Xinhua that he felt the weight of responsibility, given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zhang was also the mastermind behind the Beijing 2022 handover portion of the PyeongChang Olympics closing ceremony in 2018 and the Beijing 2008 handover portion of the Athens Olympics closing ceremony in 2004.

(Reporting by Judy Hua and Tony Munroe, Editing by Louise Heavens)