Students take a skiing lesson in Yanqing district, 90km northwest of downtown Beijing, Dec 18, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]
KUALA LUMPUR — Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics has offered China a precious chance to promote winter sports and encourage more people to participate in ice and snow events, said bid officials on July 27.
As part of its plan of expanding the appeal of winter sports to the 300 million people who live in north China, Beijing 2022 has implemented a string of promotional programs in schools, business districts and parks throughout the city. Already, skiing and ice hockey are attracting new fans, especially among the country’s burgeoning middle class.
“We’re already seeing these trends,” said Zhao Yinggang, the deputy secretary-general of the Beijing 2022 Bid Committee. “The Winter Olympics would be a huge boost to their popularity if Beijing wins the bid.”
“Having so many people participating in winter sports is an unprecedented historical opportunity for the sustainability of the Olympic Movement and winter sports,” he added.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) are due to choose the host city at its 128th Session here on Friday. Almaty, Kazakhstan, is the sole competitor against Beijing in the 2022 race after several European cities had pulled out. If successful, Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
Beijing 2022 has also promised a frugal plan, with a total budget of slightly over $3 billion, split between games operation and infrastructure construction.
“In line with the concept of holding an economical Games as well as the Olympic Agenda 2020, we have tried to keep down costs, “ said Wei Jizhong, a senior consultant for the Beijing 2022 Bid Committee.
Five out of the six venues proposed in the Beijing city zone are already in place, including the iconic “Bird’s Nest” stadium and “Water Cube” arena from the 2008 Summer Olympics, helping to keep down the costs.
Wei also stressed China’s proven capability to handle an Olympic-scale event.
“China is a reliable partner, because we always honor our commitment. The Beijing 2008 Summer Games are a perfect example,” he said.
“If the IOC award the 2022 Games to Beijing, we will keep our promise, too.”