Hebei province, which will co-host the 2022 Winter Olympics, plans to develop 66,000 athletes, instructors, judges and other personnel over the next seven years to provide athletic talent and staff for the games.
The supporting staff will specialize in developing the ice and snow sports industry, organizing the games and operating the venues, said Liu Xiaoma, head of the Center of Winter Sports at the Hebei Provincial Administration of Sports. Service staff also will be trained for reception, rescue and ski-run construction.
Most of the talent will be trained at a special school that is to be founded next year by the Hebei Institute of Physical Education. The school, the first of its kind in the province, will recruit students throughout the country and provide them with college degrees upon graduation.
The school will be in Zhangjiakou, where some Olympic venues will be located. Chongli county in Zhangjiakou will provide a practice base for ski training, which will comprise most of the students skiers’ school time.
“This is a favored location. Students can easily get to the ski resorts and get practice,” said Liu Linchi, a spokesman at the administration.
Starting in 2016, the Hebei provincial government will spend 50 million yuan ($7.7 million) each year to foster skiing talent and related staff, Liu Linchi said. “We’ll also set up a special fund to attract social capital for the nurturing work,” he said.
Thanks to the supporting capital, some outstanding students will have opportunities to go overseas on exchange programs to develop their skiing skills and other experience.
“Most of them should have graduated from high school and can receive at least three years of tertiary education,” he said.
Liu Xiaoma said this year the administration has sent about 30 skiers and instructors to countries such as Japan, South Korea and Russia to study skiing and competing.
Based on the experience of Russia at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, China will need 80,000 ice-and-snow-sports related personnel, 50,000 of which are needed in Chongli, Liu Xiaoma said.
Compared with China’s northeastern cities, such as Harbin, which is much colder and has deeper experience with winter sports, most Hebei residents do not ski or skate as a hobby.
“There is a big gap in Hebei that needs to be filled,” said Liu Linchi. “Even as the number of tourists skiing in Chongli is mounting, most of them are from Beijing and Tianjin.”
“Nurturing winter sports talents is not a short-term task,” Liu said.
The Games may have closing ceremonies, but there is an expectation that the ice and snow industry will continue to prosper in Zhangjiakou, said Liu Linchi.