Games bid will in­spire more fit­ness

Pres­i­dent says more than 300 mil­lion peo­ple would take up win­ter sports

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO SHENGNAN in Beijing zhaosheng­nan@chi­nadaily.

Days after Beijing sub­mit­ted its 2022 Win­ter Olympic Games bid to the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping high­lighted on Wed­nes­day the im­por­tance of hold­ing the event and in­volv­ing more Chi­nese in win­ter sports.

“It will in­spire more than 300 mil­lion Chi­nese to take up win­ter sports, which will con­trib­ute greatly to the Olympic move­ment,” Xi told vis­it­ing Sheik Ahmad al-Fa­had al-Sabah, pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees.

The newly re- elected pres­i­dent of Kuwait ex­pressed his best wishes for the bid, say­ing China has al­ready shown its ca­pa­bil­ity to hold large-scale sports events.

The as­so­ci­a­tion, es­tab­lished in 1979, is seek­ing to pro­tect and ad­vance the in­ter­ests of the Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees in more than 200 coun­tries by de­liv­er­ing as­sis­tance and support, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

The meet­ing in the Great Hall of the Peo­ple fol­lowed Beijing hand­ing over its of­fi­cial 2022 Win­ter Olympic Games bid to the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee at IOC head­quar­ters in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land, on Jan 6.

Beijing hopes to co-host the Games with Zhangji­akou, a city 200 kilo­me­ters north­west of Beijing in He­bei prov­ince.

Ice sports would be staged in Beijing, while snow events would be held in Zhangji­akou. The two ci­ties will be linked by high­speed rail­way. Zhang

Zhaohui, from the Beijing Bureau of Sports, said an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese peo­ple would take up win­ter sports as the bid­ding process in­tro­duces more di­ver­si­fied sports and im­proved fa­cil­i­ties.

A sim­i­lar ef­fect hap­pened after Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympic Games and has been ev­i­dent in Beijing and Zhangji­akou since the an­nounce­ment of the bid in 2013, said Zhang.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, the high­way to Zhangji­akou is of­ten jammed on Fri­day af­ter­noons in win­ter with Beijing res­i­dents get­ting away for ski week­ends.

China has made im­pres­sive progress at re­cent Win­ter Games in fig­ure, short­track and speedskating. In other sports like Alpine ski­ing, though, it still lags far be­hind.

But such sports are grow­ing quickly as the Chi­nese mid­dle class ex­pands. Ac­cord­ing to the Chi­nese Ski As­so­ci­a­tion, there were fewer than 10,000 skiers in the coun­try in 1996. Es­ti­mates put that num­ber above 5 mil­lion last year, The As­so­ci­ated Press said ear­lier.

Beijing is now in a twoc­ity race with Al­maty, Kaza­khstan to host the Olympics, after Oslo, Norway, with­drew.

The fi­nal decision on the host city will be an­nounced at an IOC assem­bly on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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