Beijing’s bid for the Winter Games has fueled residents’ interest in snow and ice sports.[Photo/for China Daily]
The 2022 Winter Olympics bid will not only help promote snow and ice sports across the country, but will also improve public health, the organizers said as the International Olympic Committee’s inspectors arrived.
The aim of the joint bid by Beijing and Zhangjiakou is to make winter sports more popular in China while benefiting residents through pollution controls and measures to upgrade industry, the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee said.
Spokeswoman Wang Hui said she was often asked why Beijing was bidding again after hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics.
“I always respond that the bid was proposed to address the demand from the Chinese people for better fitness and better lives,” she said at a media briefing on March 21.
“By bidding for the Winter Olympics, we can promote winter sports, with more accessible skating and skiing facilities being built in the process. Wider participation in outdoor winter sports will help to improve people’s fitness.”
Since last November, a series of winter sports carnivals have been held in Beijing and Zhangjiakou’s Chongli county in Hebei province, where the majority of the snow events will be held if the bid succeeds.
Skating and skiing have emerged as popular outdoor winter activities for urban residents, as can be seen from the crowds drawn to commercial rinks and ski resorts around Beijing.
Inspired by the winter sports fever, a record 96 junior ice hockey teams involving 1,500 children registered for the Beijing Ice Hockey Association’s 2014-15 Premier League.
Li Nina, China’s world champion freestyle skier and an ambassador for the bid, said: “If Beijing wins, a lot more investment from both government and companies will be put into winter sports facilities.
“More winter events will be introduced in China, and more people will have a chance to enjoy sports that they never tried before,” said Li.
The bid will also accelerate efforts to tackle air pollution, said Wang.
“The bid will motivate the governments of Beijing and Hebei to take joint efforts to upgrade industrial structures and punish polluters with tougher penalties, thus cutting emissions and controlling air pollution,” she said.