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Beijing 2022 preparations to speed up in 2017

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

01-23-2017 19:50 BJT

BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said last week that he was "sure" the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games would be a success. The remarks were made during Chinese President Xi Jinping's historic visit to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"Before we had talks last evening and today, I always said we are very confident about the success of these Winter Games. Now, after his visit, I would say we are sure it will be a success," Bach told reporters after he met with President Xi at the Lausanne-based Olympic Museum on Jan. 18.

These remarks can be viewed as a nod of approval to the job done by Chinese organizers over the past 18 months, and also as a motivational spur for preparations in the months and years ahead.

The Beijing 2022 organizing committee, which was set up in December 2015, has assembled a team of more than 170 staff members across nine departments and two operational centers. According to its work plan, the preparatory work will be sped up in 2017.

Construction of Olympic facilities will start this year, including construction of venues for biathlon, cross-country skiing, and ski jumping. Also slated to begin is the renovation of Yunding Ski Field, the proposed venue for alpine skiing in Heibei province.

"In 2017, Hebei will spare no efforts in the construction of venues, basic infrastructure construction, and winter sports popularization, in order to lay a solid foundation for a successful Winter Olympics," Li Pu, a Hebei Organizing Committee official for Beijing 2022, told Xinhua.

Competition venues are split into three clusters for the 2022 Games, with curling, ice hockey and skating events due to be held in Beijing. The Yanqing venue cluster, which lies between Beijing and the city of Zhangjiakou, is set to stage Alpine skiing, bobsled, luge and skeleton, while Chongli resort is the planned site for freestyle skiing, snowboarding, cross-country, Nordic combined, ski jumping and biathlon events.

Construction work will be completed by 2019 so that all of the venues are ready for test events in 2020, organizers said.

"Reusing the 2008 legacy venues really helps Beijing 2022 stay ahead, while verifying Beijing's promise to host the Winter Olympics in a sustainable way," said Gui Lin, head of the Beijing 2022 committee's department of planning, construction and sustainability.

In line with the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020, the Beijing 2022 Games concept will be incorporated into the long-term development goals for Beijing and neighboring Hebei province. The construction of new a high-speed railway and freeways to connect Beijing and Zhangjiakou has started, with other related projects set to start soon. The time needed for inter-city travel will be reduced to less than 50 minutes after completion of the projects.

A worldwide competition was launched in August last year to find an emblem for both the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. A judging panel is assessing the candidate designs and the official logo is expected to be unveiled in the second half of 2017.

As highlighted in Beijing's bid plans, China has pledged to encourage 300 million people to participate in winter sports ahead of the 2022 Games. Efforts are being made to expand participation in winter sport in northern China. The call has triggered greater investment in the winter recreation sector, which has seen 108 ski resorts built since Beijing won the 2022 Olympic bid in July, 2015.

The Beijing municipal government has mapped out a five-year (2016-2020) plan on public fitness, pledging "vigorous efforts" to introduce winter sports to the public including Alpine skiing, speed skating, figure skating and curling.

According to the plan, the government will use sports lottery revenue and other funds to build sporting venues, set up sports associations, and organize competitions and festivals.

China's General Administration of Sport also released a plan in November last year to speed up the construction of winter sports infrastructure, aiming to build at least 500 skating rinks before the 2022 Winter Games.

The plan calls for 650 skating gyms, 500 of which will be built in five years, in addition to 800 skiing resorts across the country.

Bach predicted that Chinese athletes will be much more competitive in a winter Olympiad on home soil.

"We can already see now many improvements in many sports. I am confident the home team in China will be very strong not only in ice sports but also in snow sports. You can already see Chinese athletes coming up... We know the determination of the Chinese people and the government," said Bach.

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