Solid start for Hebei Province in preparing for 2022 Winter Olympics

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/12/17 18:06:04

Over a year into preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics, north China's Hebei Province, in which co-hosts Beijing and Zhangjiakou are located, has achieved a solid start in the Olympic venues planning and construction of supporting infrastructure.

Construction to fully commence

Hebei has completed the top-design of regional transportation network and supporting infrastructure for Zhangjiakou, Li Pu, deputy managing director of the Hebei Office for the Winter Olympics, told Xinhua.

At a city level, Zhangjiakou, about 200 kilometers northwest of Beijing, worked out a series of plans for the winter sports event, including general framework and industrial upgrading.

The city also invited teams from Tsinghua University to draw up blueprints for its Chongli District, which is to hold most of the skiing events during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Li said the construction of those Olympic facilities will start next year, including construction of venues for biathlon, cross-country skiing, and ski jumping, and renovation of Yunding Ski Field, a proposed venue for alpine skiing.

Meanwhile, the construction of new high-speed railways and freeways, which connect Beijing and Zhangjiakou, have started or will start very soon. Time for inter-city travel will be reduced to as less as 50 minutes by their completion.

In terms of soft strength, Hebei has focused on training athletes, coaches, referees, and researchers for the Winter Olympics. From 2016, a sum of 50 million yuan (around 7.2 million US dollars) will be earmarked annually on training management and service staff.

In this year alone, a total of 272 winter sports competitors have registered, along with eight teams that were formed from scratch, Liu Xiaoma, director of Hebei Winter Sports Management Center, told Xinhua.

Zhangjiakou has additionally planted trees in a combined area of 1,600 square kilometers in 2016 while the city aims to be free of mines and air pollution, proposing to shut down all mines operating within it in the next five years.

Encourage mass participation

In a bid to foster climate for the 2022 Games, China has intended to involve 300 million people in attending winter sports.

The number of people who participate in winter sports regularly in Hebei is expected to reach 30 million, 40 percent of the province's population by 2022, which it has rolled out down-to-earth measures to achieve.

The province kicked off an ice and snow festival early this month in Zhangjiakou. The provincial winter carnival, also held in other 10 cities in Hebei, is the second of its kind since China won the bid for 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015.

It is due to host over 150 activities of six types, including professional competition, mass activity, and ice and snow-related exhibition in four months' time.

The festival is poised to draw more participants than the first event attended by 4.5 million people, said He Jianghai, director of the Hebei Provincial Bureau of Sports.

Venues are another factor key to popularizing winter sports. Thanks to its efforts in absorbing private investment for building winter sports facilities, Hebei has had 34 ski fields and 29 rinks as of now. Meanwhile, it has actively brought in new technologies to build artificial ski and ice facilities as a supplement.

Besides participants and venues, proper guidance also plays an important role in winter sports that are considered dangerous if they are not correctly played.

In Hebei, association of winter sports is encouraged to be established at different levels. As a result of a vigorous push, now Hebei has a 700-strong team of instructors capable of providing professional guidance for winter sport participants.

Golden opportunity of industrial upgrading

As a traditional industrial province that has a heavy task of reducing redundant production capacity, Hebei has seen the preparation for the 2022 Winter Games a golden opportunity to upgrade its industrial structure.

The northern province has vowed to carry out plans to develop winter sports economy with a complete industrial chain covering fitness, entertainment, tourism, equipment and gear manufacturing, and service.

For example, it eyes to turning Zhangjiakou into a national center for winter sports, making equipment and gear, and fostering human resources, while making Chongli a world-famous ski resort and a base for national sports industry.

By doing so, Hebei seeks to achieve a winter sports industry worth 100 billion yuan (around 14 billion dollars) by 2022.

Many ski fields have benefited from the momentum instilled by the Winter Olympics preparation. In Chongli, some facilities have turned profitable after years of loss, and others have expanded or planned to expand their fields to attract more skiers. One of the ski field managers said their facilities are built and operated in accordance with international standards because of the Olympic effect.

The ongoing winter carnival has not only serve as a window to showcase Hebei's winter culture but also a platform for the development of winter sports industry.

Li Li, deputy mayor of Zhangjiakou, compared the festival as a stage set by the government where enterprises, associations, and social organizations "run the show."

It is a good demonstration of how dynamic public-private cooperation could be, the mayor stressed. "A win-win results can be shared."

Hebei will follow two major guidelines in 2017, namely, making good preparation for the Winter Olympics and seeking its own development through it, said Li Pu.

Emphasis will be attached to construction of winter sports venues and supporting facilities, popularization of winter sports, environmental management, and promotion of the winter game so as to lay a solid foundation for an extraordinary Olympics, he said.

Posted in: OLYMPICS

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