More than 100 primary students attend a skiing class in the Shijinglong skiing park at the foot of Yanshan Mountain in Yanqing county, Beijing, on Dec 24, 2014. Yanqing county is part of the three venue clusters for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games bid.[Photo/Xinhua]
The Beijing 2022 bid committee remains confident that its plan to host the Winter Olympics in three zones will benefit post-event venue use while promoting winter sports in a larger area.
Staging major international events like the Olympics requires large-scale venue clusters, which often sit idle after the Games due to the lack of consumer demand and follow-up events.
As the International Olympic Committee calls for more sustainability in hosting future Olympics, Beijing’s bid plan to host the 2022 Games in three clusters－downtown Beijing, northwest Beijing’s Yanqing county and co-host Zhangjiakou in neighboring Hebei province－would address the issue by distributing winter sports facilities to three large markets while sharing the economic cost.
The Genting Snow Park in Chongli county of Zhangjiakou, is a popular destination for skiing amateurs and professionals. It will be refurnished for the 2022 Olympics bid.[Photo/Xinhua]
“It may seem that allocating venues to three places would bring challenges for commuting during the Games. Instead, the three-zone arrangement will make our venues and facilities more accessible to larger groups of consumers,” said Wang Hui, deputy secretary-general and spokeswoman for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games Bid Committee.
“If you host the Games in one compact venue cluster in remote areas, it’s hard for enough winter sports fans to use the facilities. So the three-zone plan works well for sustainable post-Games operation of the venues because more people will have a chance to use them,” she added.
Beijing is vying with Almaty, Kazakhstan, to host the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. IOC members will vote for the winning host at the 128th IOC Session on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur.
According to Beijing’s bid plan, all the ice events, including speed skating, ice hockey and curling, will be held at five venues, including four existing ones in downtown Beijing. Only the National Speed Skating Oval will be built as an additional permanent venue for speed skating competitions.
Four snow sports disciplines, including alpine skiing, bobsled and luge, will be staged at the proposed National Alpine Ski Center and National Sliding Center, which will be developed into high-level training bases and public skiing and tourism centers in mountainous regions in Yanqing.
The rest of the skiing events will be staged at the new Nordic and Biathlon Center as well as the refurnished Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, which plans to build on the 2022 legacy and further develop after the Games.
Zhang Li, deputy director of the planning and technology department of the Beijing 2022 bid committee, shrugged off concerns over the geographic distances between venue clusters, saying that convenient transportation networks would be in place.
“The layout of the venues in the three zones will not only alleviate the pressure on the post-Games use, but also maximally benefit the development of winter sports in and around Beijing as more people will have the chance to use Olympic facilities after 2022,” said Zhang.
Located along the Yanshan Mountain northwest of Beijing, the Yanqing and Zhangjiakou zones have vertical drops, rugged mountain terrain and the correct climate conditions for high-quality artificial snow trails for snow sports competitions, according to the bid committee.
“Even some world-famous ski destinations in Europe are less suitable than Beijing’s surrounding mountain areas for making clean, high-quality snow,” said Mojca Ogris-Schimberg, a senior manager at snow-making machine manufacturer DemacLenko.
Patrick Danielsson, general manager of Italian snow making company TechnoAlpin’s branch in China, echoed Ogris-Schimberg.
“The conditions (in Beijing) meet the requirements (of the International Ski Federation) for international events, and they are better than in Sochi (the Russian city that hosted the last Winter Olympics).”