Citing Beijing’s sound progress preparing for excellent 2022 Winter Games, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach hailed China’s contribution in promoting the Olympic Movement worldwide.
From impressions gained by inspecting venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to attending the opening ceremony of China’s National Games and an Olympic art exhibition, the IOC chief said he remained impressed by China’s commitment to developing sports by all means while embracing the Olympic spirit.
“I have a very close bond with China, ... and I am very happy to see the growing importance of China in the international sports world, not only by organizing excellent Olympic Games but also taking more and more responsibility in international organizations like the IOC,” Bach said in a recent interview with Jia Zheng, chief editor of China’s Loong magazine.
During his visit to China, Bach inspected Wukesong Arena, the ice hockey venue for Beijing 2022, heard a briefing from the Beijing Organizing Committee for 2022, at its former steel mill headquarters, and celebrated the launch of an Olympics art exhibition.
Bach had praise for Beijing’s progress in preparing for sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2022 by using facilities from the 2008 Summer Olympics, as well as for China’s ambition to involve 300 million people in winter sports through 2022.
“Our coordination commission is very happy with the great progress Beijing has made,” said Bach, who first came to China in 1980 as a fencing athlete.
“We want to make the Olympic Games more sustainable and more feasible ... in this respect, to use the facilities of 2008 is a perfect example of implementing the IOC’s reform proposal and creating the new legacy for even more new generations.”
Under Beijing’s plan, all the events on ice will be held at 12 venues, including eight that already exist, such as Wukesong Arena, the National Aquatics Center and the National Indoor Stadium, in downtown Beijing. Alpine skiing, bobsled and luge will be held in Yanqing county, in the capital’s Northwest suburbs. The rest of the snow events will be in co-host city Zhangjiakou in Hebei province.
All refurbishment of existing facilities and construction of new venues will be completed by the end of 2019, and the venues will be tested in 2020.
Bach also attended the opening ceremony of the 13th Chinese National Games in Tianjin on Aug 27 and gave a thumbs up to the games’ innovation of accepting amateurs to compete at the quadrennial event.
“This is a great idea, because this will offer everybody the opportunity to participate and to be inspired by the leading athletes,” he said.