Prepa­ra­tions for 2022 Olympics gear­ing up

China Daily - - CHINA - By ZHANG YU in Shi­ji­azhuang and SUN XIAOCHEN in Bei­jing Con­tact the writ­ers at sunx­i­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

China’s prepa­ra­tion this year for the 2022 Win­ter Olympics will fo­cus on venue readi­ness and train­ing of Games-re­lated staff, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal gov­ern­ments.

De­spite the deep win­ter chill and tough out­door con­di­tions, con­struc­tion sites in north­ern Bei­jing’s Olympic park and its moun­tain­ous Yan­qing dis­trict are bustling with work­ers and ma­chin­ery in the process of build­ing the Na­tional Speed Skat­ing Oval, the Na­tional Alpine Ski­ing Cen­ter and Na­tional Slid­ing Cen­ter, three new venues of the 26 needed for the Olympics over three zones — in Bei­jing’s down­town, Yan­qing and the cap­i­tal’s co-host Zhangji­akou, He­bei prov­ince.

With three years to go be­fore the Olympics opens in Fe­bru­ary 2022, con­struc­tion will be ac­cel­er­ated. Ma­jor struc­tures of all four new com­pe­ti­tion venues in Bei­jing, in­clud­ing the Big Air slope in Shougang In­dus­trial Park, will be com­pleted by the end of this year, ac­cord­ing to the city’s con­struc­tion reg­u­la­tory body.

Com­ple­tion of the Alpine ski­ing cen­ter in Yan­qing within two years will al­low the first of­fi­cial test event for the 2022 Win­ter Olympics, an in­ter­na­tional Alpine ski­ing race, to run on the moun­tain slope in early 2020, ac­cord­ing to Wang Gang, direc­tor of Bei­jing Ma­jor Projects Con­struc­tion Head­quar­ters Of­fice.

“We are well ahead of sched­ule in pre­par­ing all the venues for the Games with all the new venues in down­town Bei­jing and Yan­qing to take shape this year,” he said on Mon­day dur­ing the an­nual ses­sion of the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Peo­ple’s Con­gress.

The of­fice also said that the trans­for­ma­tion of eight ex­ist­ing venues from the 2008 Sum­mer Olympics, to serve com­pe­ti­tion, cer­e­mony and me­dia func­tions in 2022, is in full swing and is ex­pected to be com­plete in early 2021.

The re­pur­pos­ing of the Na­tional Aquat­ics Cen­ter — known as the Wa­ter Cube for host­ing swim­ming in 2008 — into the Ice Cube for curl­ing in 2022, and the Na­tional In­door Sta­dium, built for gym­nas­tics at the Sum­mer Games, into the ice hockey arena, will be the main fo­cus this year, ac­cord­ing to the city’s mu­nic­i­pal de­vel­op­ment and re­form com­mis­sion.

Ma­jor progress is also ex­pected in Zhangji­akou this year as He­bei Gover­nor Xu Qin re­vealed on Mon­day that all eight com­pe­ti­tion and non­com­pe­ti­tion venues for six snow based sports — snow­board­ing, freestyle ski­ing, cross-coun­try ski­ing, ski jump­ing, Nordic com­bined and biathlon — in the city’s moun­tain­ous Chongli dis­trict are sched­uled to be fin­ished this year.

“He­bei will con­struct the venues and sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture for the Games with high qual­ity,” Xu said in a gov­ern­ment work re­port to an an­nual ses­sion of the provin­cial peo­ple’s con­gress.

Chongli dis­trict, about 150 kilo­me­ters north­west of Bei­jing, will be con­nected by a high-speed rail­way with Bei­jing, which will cut the travel time from the cur­rent three hours by bus to 50 min­utes once con­struc­tion is com­pleted by the end of this year.

Chongli is also striv­ing to de­velop a win­ter sports in­dus­try, with 15 over­seas com­pa­nies hav­ing signed de­vel­op­ment deals with lo­cal part­ners in win­ter tourism, equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing and ed­u­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to the work re­port.

Mean­while, some win­ter sport­sre­lated mem­bers of Bei­jing’s po­lit­i­cal ad­vi­sory body have urged more fund­ing for the train­ing of win­ter sports in­struc­tors, com­pe­ti­tion man­agers and venue op­er­a­tors to guar­an­tee enough tal­ent to sus­tain­ably de­velop win­ter sports in the post-Olympic era.

“In ad­di­tion to train­ing our ath­letes for the com­pe­ti­tions at the 2022 Olympics, we need to fo­cus more on de­vel­op­ing more staff in en­try-level win­ter sports train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion, as well as op­er­a­tional spe­cial­ists in skat­ing rinks and ski re­sorts,” said Cao Wei­dong, pres­i­dent of Bei­jing Sport Univer­sity and a mem­ber of the Bei­jing com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence.

CHEN XIAODONG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A child learns to ski at the Wan­long Ski Re­sort in Chongli dis­trict, Zhangji­akou, He­bei prov­ince, in Novem­ber. China wants to train gen­er­a­tions of win­ter sports en­thu­si­asts.

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