China provides a tantalising glimpse of Beijing 2022
The Closing Ceremony of any Olympic Games or Olympic Winter Games is an opportunity for celebration and festivity as the host city bids farewell to the world, and the athletes gather to celebrate their achievements. It also offers a platform to the host city of the following edition of the Games to give the world a sneak preview of what it can expect four years down the line.
And on 25 February at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium we were given our first real taste of what China has in store for us at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
From summer to winter
The Chinese capital, which hosted a hugely successful Olympic Games in 2008, is set to become the first city in history to stage both the Summer and Winter Games. And if the official “teaser” for Beijing 2022 is anything to go by, the next Winter Games will be every bit as spectacular as the 2008 Games were a decade ago.
After IOC President Thomas Bach had overseen the symbolic passing of the Olympic flag from the PyeongChang mayor to his counterpart from the Chinese capital city, the next eight mesmerising minutes provided the Beijing 2022 organisers with a tantalising showcase for their vision for the next Winter Games.
See you in Beijing
The “stars” of the Chinese presentation were two giant-sized illuminated pandas on rollerblades, who led some two dozen rollerblading humans across an ever-changing sea of neon lights, as they traced out the official logo for Beijing 2022.
The climax of the presentation segued into a video montage of Chinese athletes and citizens, including the country’s president himself, Xi Jinping, taking turns to deliver a welcome message on behalf of the next host city with the refrain: “See you in Beijing!”
The organisers of Beijing 2022 and the Chinese government have clearly embraced the opportunity afforded to take winter sports in the host country to the next level.
Grassroots winter sports development in the world’s most populous country is well underway. By the time the next Olympic Winter Games come around China hopes to have 650 skating rinks and no less than 800 ski resorts.
By the end of 2016, about 11.3 million Chinese citizens were reported to have skied at least once a year. China aims to lift that number to 300 million before it welcomes the world in four years’ time.