President Bach meets Chinese State Leader President Xi - after seeing progress made at Beijing 2022 venues
IOC President Thomas Bach was in Beijing on Thursday to meet President Xi Jinping following a week looking at the progress made towards the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Meeting with President Xi
Chinese President Xi Jinping and IOC President Thomas Bach met in the Great Hall of the People after President Bach had spent the morning touring the National Winter Sports Training Centre in the Shougang district, accompanied by the President of the Chinese National Olympic Committee, Ghou Zhongwen. President Xi discussed the progress of the preparations for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 with President Bach, and the development of sport in the country.
Vision for the Games
President Xi said: “The Olympic Winter Games are part of our vision of encouraging 300 million Chinese to experience winter sports. Through sport we will improve the health and well-being of all Chinese people.” President Xi also mentioned the organisers’ sustainable approach to the Games. “Ecological improvements and environmental protection are part of China's plan,” he said. “We want to have green Games. And we are also remodelling some of the venues from 2008,” he said.
Tough on doping
He also made a strong stand against doping and corruption. “We have a clear and very strong policy on doping. I myself hate it,” he said. “I would prefer to have clean Chinese athletes than a gold medal, or any medal at all.”
President Bach thanked President Xi for his continuing support. He told him: “This week we have seen children, parents and athletes, all very enthusiastic about getting involved in winter sports. It demonstrates your vision becoming reality – that sport can contribute to the social development of China and in particular education.” The previous evening, President Bach was welcomed to Beijing by the President of the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee, Cai Qi, who hosted a dinner in the impressive newly opened administrative centre for Beijing 2022, telling President Bach that he was the first international guest at the complex.
Mountain venues ready for action
Earlier in the week, President Bach visited the mountain venues for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 in Zhangjiakou. After seeing the site for the planned national biathlon and cross-country ski centres and the ski jump, he met young skiers and snowboarders at the half pipe venue in the Genting Snow Park, which will also host parallel giant slalom, ski and snowboard cross and slopestyle competitions.
Throughout the trip, President Bach was accompanied by IOC Vice-President Zaiqing Yu; IOC members in China Li Lingwei and athletes' representative Hong Zhang; and Timothy Fok, IOC Honorary member from Hong Kong. IOC Vice-President and Coordination Commission Chair for Beijing 2022 Juan Antonio Samaranch was also present at the venue tours and in Beijing.
At the site of the downhill skiing in Yanqing, President Bach was able to see the progress made in recent months. The venue will play host to a World Cup event next year.
“The progress is very impressive. For every venue we have visited here, we could see what the use for it would be after the Olympic Games, so that the Chinese people can then really enjoy winter sports,” said President Bach.
In the mountain venues, organisers have paid particular attention to sustainability. Some 320 million trees have been planted, and special care has been paid to preserving local flora and fauna during the construction process. In Beijing, eight of the original Olympic Games 2008 venues are being converted to host events for the Winter Games in 2022. The best known example is the National Aquatics Centre or Water Cube used in the 2008 Games, which will become the Ice Cube, as it will be the venue for curling during the Olympic Winter Games 2022.
Earlier in the visit, the President was in Harbin, where he visited skating facilities along with IOC Athletes’ Commission member and gold medallist Hong Zhang, who trained at the oval for many years.
Welcomed by the local Party Secretary and Governor of Heilongjiang Province, he also visited ice and snow facilities in the city, including an indoor ski facility. There he met many children and young people who were being introduced to winter sports through a range of programmes.