The fourth International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission meeting (17-19 July) witnessed the significant positive impact made from creating opportunities for 300 million Chinese people to get involved in winter sport, as well as the benefits from the on-going implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020.
“Beijing 2022 is delivering on its vision to engage 300 million people in winter sports, and we can see real benefits resulting from the various actions that are being undertaken across the country,” IOC Coordination Commission Chair Juan Antonio Samaranch said. “We have heard about some impressive developments this week that exemplify the vision for winter sports in China in terms of mass participation, elite sport and tourism. This progress is very encouraging for the long-term future of winter sport, both in China and internationally.”
The nationwide promotion of winter sports among the general public, especially with a focus on young people, has led to a major expansion of sports facilities to accommodate the growing demand in China. By the end of 2018, there were 742 ski resorts and 596 ice rinks throughout the country, with more facilities being built every year. This has led to an increased number of winter sports events and plans to bid for more international competitions. During the 2018-2019 season, there were 4,401 district level, municipal and national level winter sports events in Beijing, with 8.15 million people taking part. The increased popularity of winter sports has also meant a growing need for professional instructors, quality equipment and training centres.
The Beijing 2022 Organising Committee emphasised the overall growth of the winter sports industry in China, citing a 16 per cent year-on-year increase to USD 53.6 billion in 2018, up from USD 46.2 billion in 2017. To date, this has led to the creation of 1.5 million jobs. Beijing 2022 anticipates that this level of demand will have an immense impact on the international winter sports industry.
Sustainability initiatives are at the core of Beijing 2022’s operations, and the Organising Committee is at the forefront of contributing to global climate change initiatives. Guided by the IOC within the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, Beijing 2022 will use advanced technology to maximise the positive impact of the Games. Innovations include using natural CO2 refrigeration systems in most of the ice venues, which have no impact on the environment. Together with the IOC, Beijing 2022 continues to make contributions in key action areas to drive the climate change agenda in sport.
The Organising Committee also provided an update on the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020/The New Norm initiatives. The implementation of more than 90 Olympic Agenda 2020/The New Norm measures has allowed Beijing 2022 to simplify the delivery of a number of Games elements, such as International Broadcast Centre (IBC) optimisation and relocation; the number of medal plazas reduced from three to two; the use of trains to travel between venue clusters; the appointment of a ticketing service provider; a venue capacities review; and increased collaboration and combined forums between the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). There are also important initiatives to further improve the experience of Games participants. Cultural programmes and sports initiations are planned in Beijing Olympic Park, Zhangjiakou and Yanqing. The digital experience for Olympic fans is also being carefully planned, creating an ideal environment blending engaging content with useful information and services for participants.
Preparations for the test events continue to be on track. The programme has been finalised, with 19 Olympic test events and 5 Paralympic test events. The first test event, the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Skiing World Cup (Downhill & Super G), will take place on 15 and 16 February 2020. The “Experience Beijing” local organising committee for the test events has also been formed, with venue teams already moving to the Yanqing region. The organisers are working closely with the FIS to host a successful competition.
Zhang Jiandong, Vice-Mayor of Beijing and Executive Vice-President of Beijing 2022, said that, with the first test event scheduled for February 2020, Games preparations had entered a new phase, with the focus shifting to operational readiness, and that the Organising Committee would step up work in all areas. “We will work closely with the relevant government offices to promote winter sports and attract more people, especially young people, to take part,” he added.
Construction of sports venues remains on schedule for delivery before the test events. The Olympic Villages in Beijing, Zhangjiakou and Yanqing and the medals plazas will be delivered in spring/summer 2021.
Regarding the long-term infrastructure projects that will benefit the region, the tracks have been laid for the 174km high-speed railway between Beijing and Zhangjiakou, while the 171km Jingli Expressway, which will connect Games sites, is also 87 per cent complete.
IOC TOP partner Alibaba has been appointed as Beijing 2022’s Ticketing System and Services Provider. Development of the ticketing programme for Beijing 2022 is underway, highlighting the initiatives in innovation that will modernise and digitise Olympic ticketing for these Games. The ticketing programme will introduce a number of innovations to improve the user experience and ensure full stadiums.
On the first day of the visit, the Coordination Commission members looked at the progress being made at the Genting Ski Resort, Olympic Village, Medals Plaza and Olympic Sports Park in the Zhangjiakou area. They then travelled to the Yanqing zone to inspect the progress being made at the Yanqing Olympic Village and the National Sliding Centre.
Representatives from each of the seven winter sports International Federations, the National Olympic Committees of Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the USA, and the IPC joined the Coordination Commission for the three-day meeting, helping to provide the Organising Committee with valuable feedback and expertise.
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