During the third International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission meeting (17-18 September), the Beijing Organising Committee expanded on plans to leverage the Olympic Winter Games 2022 to leave a legacy for tomorrow.
“We have continued to emphasise the importance for the Organising Committee of producing an intelligent Games plan that is reasonable, responsible and that will result in a positive economic impact, which we are pleased to see has been heard and implemented by Beijing 2022,” IOC Coordination Commission Chair Juan Antonio Samaranch said. “Hosting the Olympic Winter Games provides an opportunity to update venues and adapt them for multi-purpose use, this in addition to the creation of new tourist destinations and recreational facilities that will be open to the public. In this capacity, the Olympic Winter Games 2022 are acting as a catalyst to help Beijing meet its developmental needs.”
On the first day of the visit, the Coordination Commission visited the National Aquatics Centre, the venue locations for the Beijing Olympic Village, Big Air, National Speed Skating Oval and the Olympic Tower. It was clear following visits to the venues that – as stated in the candidature – every athlete will be within extremely close proximity to the competition sites, making it an ideal and memorable experience.
The pool at the National Aquatics Centre will be transformed into a curling venue for the Games, while the Olympic villages will be used as a part of wider development plans for rental housing.
ZHANG Lin, a silver medallist in men’s 400m freestyle swimming at Beijing 2008, and YANG Ying, a Chinese curler training for Beijing 2022, joined the stop at the National Aquatics Centre.
“Every time I came back to the Water Cube after 2008, I wanted to jump into the pool and swim here again,” Zhang said. “I won’t be able to compete at the Winter Games in 2022, but I will certainly come here to cheer for Team China as a spectator.”
Yang, a young curler who competed at the 2017 Asian Winter Games for the Chinese women’s team, said it would be exciting to play curling in such a special venue: “It is a transformation from the Water Cube in 2008 to the Ice Cube in 2022. It is also inheriting a legacy from 2008. I really hope to be able to compete at Beijing 2022.”
Big Air will be situated in Shougang Industrial Park, which has already been transformed from a steel mill into the Beijing 2022 headquarters, as well as a national training centre for winter sports that is complete with housing for high-performance staff and athletes. The park will also provide recreational and training facilities for the general public.
Building on from the Beijing 2008 Games, the National Speed Skating Oval is being constructed on the same grounds that were used for the Olympic field hockey and archery competitions 10 years ago. In keeping with strong sustainability practices, the venue, which is more than 50 per cent complete, can recover and repurpose a large part of the heat produced in making the ice for other energy needs inside the stadium.
Ahead of the Coordination Commission meeting, members of the IOC delegation travelled to Zhangjiakou and Yanqing, where the vision to develop the district into a tourist destination is already coming to life. The innovative designs and outstanding quality of the venues and villages will display Chinese creativity and state-of-the-art engineering.
In addition to the region’s intention to develop the area into a winter sports location, government plans to extend motorways and complete a high-speed train line to the province will ensure the general population will have greater access to these snow sports facilities.
“With the Olympic Winter Games having now officially entered the ‘Beijing Cycle’, and only 16 months to go until the first test events, the amount of work, pace and standards expected of the Organising Committee has increased significantly,” said Zhang Jiandong, Executive Vice President of Beijing 2022. “The Organising Committee is now more focused than ever on the goal of delivering a ‘fantastic, extraordinary and excellent’ Winter Games which are ‘green, inclusive, open and clean’. The central government of China attaches great importance to the preparations for Beijing 2022, while the Beijing municipal government and Hebei provincial government treat the Games as a top priority in their work.”
Representatives from each Winter International Federation joined the two-day meeting to lend their expertise in ensuring the Games are an exciting but responsible sporting event delivered in accordance with Olympic Agenda 2020’s the New Norm. The International Federations will furthermore play a key role in the Organising Committee’s upcoming milestone to finalise the schedule and strategy for test events, as well as in growing winter sport in China, which has been a key priority for Athlete/International Federation Working Group Chair Gian-Franco Kasper.
The Organising Committee (OCOG) also updated the IOC on its first progress report on the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment, as well as the impressive progress made with the OCOG’s commercial programme.
Following the Coordination Commission visit, several members of the Coordination Commission will join the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee at the Winter World Sports Expo, which will bring thousands of influencers in the winter sports industry to the Chinese capital city. This conference is an opportunity to focus on popularising snow and ice sports in China, further adding to Beijing 2022’s goal to engage 300 million people with winter sport.