“We will spare no effort to present a great Games to the world. The world is turning its eyes to China, and China is ready,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his 2022 New Year address.
One month prior to the commencement of Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, President Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, inspected the preparations for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing on January 4, 2022. He urged organizers to keep working hard during the final preparations to ensure the complete success of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, conveying the great importance China has attached to the international sporting event.
During his inspection, Xi reiterated the idea of hosting a “green, inclusive, open, and clean” Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. To this effect, the organizers of Beijing 2022 have made full use of existing venues by repurposing and renovating them. Both the existing and newly built ones will function as facilities for other purposes after the Winter Games such as exhibitions, sports events, training, tourism, and other social and cultural events.
Meanwhile the utilization of every available green technology is an important highlight of the Winter Games. For example, the National Speed Skating Oval, known as the “Ice Ribbon,” also the only newly-built ice sports venue in the Beijing competition zone, was lauded by Xi as a good example of low-carbon operation and multi-purpose utilization. The ice at the “Ice Ribbon” is made with environmentally friendly carbon dioxide trans-critical direct cooling ice technology.
It is already President Xi’s fifth tour of inspecting the preparatory work for the Winter Games. Back in January 23, 2017, Xi made his first inspection in the Zhangjiakou competition zone. He noted that Hebei Province and its Zhangjiakou City should seize the development opportunity brought about by the 2022 Winter Games through integrating the preparatory work with local development planning and advancing the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Now, the once impoverished Chongli County of Zhangjiakou, which is hosting the skiing venues for the Winter Games, has gotten rid of poverty by harnessing the skiing industry. The Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway has brought the two places closer by shortening the travel time from three and half hours to just one hour. And now Zhangjiakou has been transformed into a popular ski resort.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Athletes’ Village during his inspection tour of the preparations for the 2022 Olympic and Paralymic Winter Games in Beijing on January 4, 2022.
China’s devotion to the Winter Games has greatly popularized winter sports as part of the country’s endeavors to promote well-rounded human development and meet people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. In a recent interview with Xinhua, IOC President Thomas Bach said, “President Xi had the vision to engage 300 million Chinese people in the winter sports... this is a huge legacy for the Chinese people. And the legacy is as huge for the global winter sports.”
During his recent inspection tour, Xi indicated that China has achieved its goal of engaging 300 million people in winter sports. He noted that the ultimate goal of building a sporting powerhouse and a healthy China is to strengthen the people’s fitness, which also forms an essential part of China’s endeavors to build a modern socialist country in an all-round manner. The enthusiasm brought about by Beijing 2022 should be maintained to promote sustainable development of winter sports at both the elite and the grassroots levels, Xi added.
According to statistics released on January 12 by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, over 346 million Chinese people have participated in winter sports activities since Beijing’s successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015. Winter sports are also putting down roots in China’s southern provinces like Guangdong. China now has 654 standard ice rinks, a growth of 317 percent from 2015. Indoor and outdoor ski resorts now number 803, up from 568 in 2015.
Meanwhile, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is causing new surges of infections across the globe, safety is a major concern of the host country and the whole world at large regarding the Winter Games. Beijing 2022’s “closed-loop management system” came into effect in early January as overseas staff began to arrive in the capital city to prepare for the Games. While visiting the Main Media Center (MMC), Xi emphasized that extra importance should be attached to broadcasting and news reporting of the Games. Xi called for efforts from the MMC venue operation team to ensure the smooth operation of news reporting, transmitting, and broadcasting, with pandemic prevention and control measures in place.
Beijing 2022 also serves as an excellent platform for the country to showcase its unique culture and winter sports development. From the emblems of the Games to venue designs and pictograms, traditional Chinese cultural elements can be spotted everywhere. The successful hosting of Beijing 2022 will help present China as a positive, prosperous, and open nation committed to building a community with a shared future for mankind, Xi said.
Despite the “diplomatic boycott” of the Games by some Western countries based on unfounded so-called human right problems, a growing chorus supporting Beijing 2022 from the international community is forming. The 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution on Olympic Truce for the Beijing Winter Games by consensus on December 2, 2021, which was co-sponsored by 173 countries. Multilateral mechanisms including the G20, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the China-CELAC Forum, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have voiced their support for the Winter Games. Dignitaries including UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have confirmed that they will attend the event in Beijing. French President Macron and other heads of government explicitly expressed their opposition to politicizing sports.
“We are fully confident and capable of presenting to the world a fantastic, extraordinary, and excellent Winter Olympics,” Xi stated during his latest inspection tour.