Nan­jing hopes Youth Olympics help na­tion’s bid for Win­ter 2022

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By SUN XIAOCHEN sunx­i­aochen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Host­ing the Nan­jing Youth Olympic Games in a fes­tive yet fru­gal way will set a pos­i­tive ex­am­ple while earn­ing sup­port for the joint bid of Bei­jing and Zhangji­akou to host the 2022 Win­ter Olympics, or­ga­niz­ers said.

De­spite con­cerns about ex­ces­sive spend­ing and po­ten­tial in­con­ve­nience to the pub­lic, the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee of the 2014 Nan­jing Youth Olympic Games re­mains pos­i­tive about the event’s af­fect on the Win­ter Olympics bid.

“Whether the Nan­jing Youth Olympics is suc­cess­ful will weigh a lot in the bid­ding process of the 2022 Win­ter Olympics,” said Xiao Tian, vice-chair­man of the Chi­nese Olympic Com­mit­tee, at a news brief­ing on the prepa­ra­tions for the Youth Games on Thurs­day.

“The suc­cess in Nan­jing will boost the con­fi­dence of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee that China is al­ways ready for stag­ing in­ter­na­tional events. The Nan­jing event’s in­no­va­tions in fru­gal­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity will im­press the IOC and help the Win­ter Olympics bid,” Xiao said.

In Novem­ber, the IOC con­firmed that Bei­jing and the nearby city of Zhangji­akou, He­bei prov­ince, will launch a joint bid to host the 2022 Win­ter Olympics, com­pet­ing against cities like Al­maty, Kaza­khstan; Oslo, Nor­way; and Mu­nich, Ger­many.

Yang Weize, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the Nan­jing com­mit­tee, echoed Xiao’s sen­ti­ments, say­ing Nan­jing will set ex­am­ples in eco­nomic prepa­ra­tion and post-event use of the fa­cil­i­ties.

Still, the pub­lic has ex­pressed doubts about the coun­try’s con­tin­ual bid­ding for ex­trav­a­gant ma­jor in­ter­na­tional events, given that some pre­vi­ous events have been a waste of pub­lic re­sources.

China has proved its eco­nomic strength by stag­ing the 2008 Bei­jing Sum­mer Olympics, 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and 2011 Shen­zhen Univer­si­ade, but also saw new fa­cil­i­ties like the gi­ant per­ma­nent sta­di­ums for the Guangzhou and Shen­zhen events slide into dis­use and dis­re­pair.

“Does China re­ally need so many big-spend­ing events? Why not save the money for im­prov­ing people’s liveli­hoods and pub­lic wel­fare like health­care and ed­u­ca­tion?” a mi­cro-blog­ger nick­named “Yang Ming­mingAlex” posted on the Nan­jing YOG topic on Thurs­day.

Some ex­perts are al­ready sug­gest­ing that lo­cal gov­ern­ments should pro­ceed with cau­tion to­ward hold­ing more ma­jor sports events.

Lin Xianpeng, a sports in­dus­try pro­fes­sor at Bei­jing Sport Univer­sity, said that the coun­try’s sports in­vest­ment should be more in mass fit­ness pro­grams rather than gi­ant event in­fra­struc­tures, which are dif­fi­cult to op­er­ate com­mer­cially.

“It’s time to shift the fo­cus, and I doubt whether the pub­lic will feel as much enthusiasm as they did for the Bei­jing Olympics (in 2008). Com­pared to ma­jor events, we need more grass­roots pro­grams that would truly ben­e­fit people’s well-be­ing,” Lin said.

To keep Nan­jing’s prom­ise of fru­gal prepa­ra­tion and less pub­lic dis­rup­tion, 26 com­pe­ti­tion venues and 12 train­ing fa­cil­i­ties will be in mod­i­fied and ren­o­vated sta­di­ums, and there will be only one new venue the Youth Olympics Sports Park for rugby, hockey and BMX for the Nan­jing event.

The Nan­jing or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee has cut its ad­min­is­tra­tive spend­ing to less than 3 per­cent of the over­all budget and 2 per­cent of the la­bor cost, sig­nif­i­cantly lower than other sport­ing events of com­pa­ra­ble scale, said Liu Yian, the com­mit­tee’s deputy ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

“Econ­omy doesn’t mean we are not will­ing to spend money, but in­stead, we will spend wisely,” said Yang, the com­mit­tee’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man.

“The out­come of hold­ing the Youth Olympic Games can’t be as­sessed only by the in­put-out­put ra­tio. The rich her­itage and in­ter­na­tional im­age will be a valu­able trea­sure for the city of Nan­jing.”

Nan­jing was elected as the host of the Sec­ond Youth Olympic Games in Fe­bru­ary 2010.

The youth gala event, which kicks off on Aug 16, will at­tract 3,808 ath­letes aged from 15 to 18 years old from 204 coun­tries and re­gions to com­pete in 222 Olympic and nonO­lympic cat­e­gories. Var­i­ous cul­tural ex­change and ed­u­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties will be high­lighted dur­ing the event.

ZHANG SHANYU / FOR CHINA DAILY

Stu­dents from Tian­feigong El­e­men­tary School make a col­lage of LeLe, the mas­cot of the 2014 Nan­jing Youth Olympic Games, with guards from Nan­jing Port to cel­e­brate the 100-day count­down to the event on Thurs­day.

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