Cold sports bring warmer relations
China, Europe eye closer cooperation in developing winter sports economies
China is seeking closer cooperation with Europe in the field of winter sports economics as the 2022 Winter Olympic Games approach, a Chinese Olympics official said on Sept 8 in Beijing.
Liu Yang, head of the communications department of the Beijing organizing committee for the games, said hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics is “a milestone event in China’s development”.
China is seeking cooperation with various countries in order to host “a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent” 2022 Winter Olympic Games, President Xi Jinping said.
Liu said the Chinese government attaches great importance to the 2022 preparation work. He quoted Xi as saying that the 2022 Winter Olympics should embody the spirit of green, open and shared development, along with fairness and honesty.
Cooperation with various countries is an important part of preparation for the games, and so far the work has been supported by many countries with more experience with winter games, such as Norway, he said.
Norway hosted the 6th Oslo Winter Olympics in 1952 and the 17th Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1994. It is a country with “superior natural conditions for winter sports and abundant experience in winter sports event organization”, Liu said during the 2017 Norway China Winter Sports Economic Forum.
The themed forum was part of the four-day 2017 World Winter Sports Expo, co-organized by the Beijing Olympic City Development Association and International Data Group. It ended on Sept 10.
“We are proud that China and Norway are working together and seeking cooperation,” says Mattis Raustol, charge d’affaires at the Royal Norwegian embassy. “We will share our knowledge and technology, and I believe our cooperation will create a lot of opportunities and be beneficial.”
Several agreements were signed at the forum, including one between the Chinese Dong Xiang Group and the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
“This agreement ensures that we can now use Chinese clothes and equipment in Norwegian sports venues, and it is the answer to how China and Norway will work together in winter sports,” says Tom Tvedt, chairman of the Norwegian committee and Confederation of Sports.
Tvedt notes that China and Norway are nations on different scales, “so it is important to make sure that cooperation between the two suits local conditions in both.”
“In the future, we can strengthen our cooperation and share our experience in winter sports talent training, venue construction and event organization with China,” Tvedt says.
Switzerland, along with Norway and Finland, was also invited as a guest country to the winter expo and sought to enhance links with China and attract more Chinese tourists to the country in winter.
According to Swiss statistics, more than 19.3 million foreign tourists visited the country in 2016, over 1.13 million of whom were from China.
President Xi paid a state visit to Switzerland in January and, together with his Swiss counterpart, Doris Leuthard, announced the opening of the China-Switzerland Tourism Year.
Jean-Jacques de Dardel, Swiss ambassador to China, says Switzerland is willing to maintain cooperation with China on eco-sports and winter tourism.
The diplomat says the country is attracting more Chinese tourists and Swiss authorities are looking forward to establishing more links with China.
Urs Eberhard, deputy director of the Swiss National Tourism Administration, notes that China has become the fourth-largest tourist market in Switzerland, and Switzerland is looking forward to strengthening cooperation with China in all aspects before the 2022 Games.
During the expo, the Swiss Ski Association and the China Ski Association signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in skiing.
“The deal will propel bilateral cooperation on winter sports between the two countries and also make positive contributions to the development of winter sports and related industries in China,” de Dardel says.
Tom Tvedt, chairman of the Norwegian committee and Confederation of Sports