Solid start for Hebei Province in preparing for 2022 Winter Olympics

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/12/18 18:48:39

A skier speeds down a slope at a ski resort in Zhangjiakou's Chongli district in November. The Hebei Province district is to host most of the skiing events during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Photo: CFP

A skier speeds down a slope at a ski resort in Zhangjiakou's Chongli district in November. The Hebei Province district is to host most of the skiing events during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Photo: CFP

  Over a year into preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics, North China's Hebei Province, in which co-host Zhangjiakou is located, has achieved a solid start in venue planning and construction of infrastructure.

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

At city level, Zhangjiakou, about 200 kilometers northwest of fellow 2022 Winter Olympic Games host Beijing, has worked out a series of plans, including a general framework and industrial upgrading.

The city has also invited teams from Tsinghua University to draw up blueprints for its Chongli district, which is to host most of the skiing events during the games.

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

Meanwhile, work on new high-speed railways and freeways to connect Beijing and Zhangjiakou has started or will start very soon. Inter-city travel time will be reduced to less than 50 minutes by their completion.

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 by the time of the games, proposing to shut down all mines operating within it in the next five years.

Encourage mass participation

The number of people who regularly participate in winter sports in Hebei is expected to reach 30 million-40 percent of the province's population-by 2022.

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

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

The festival is poised to draw more participants than the first event which was 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 now has 34 ski fields and 29 rinks.

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. Hebei now has a 700-strong team of instructors capable of providing professional guidance for winter sport participants.

Industrial upgrading

As a traditionally industrial province that faces a heavy task to reduce 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 its winter sports economy with a complete industrial chain covering fitness, entertainment, tourism, equipment manufacturing and services.

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

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

Many ski fields have benefited from the momentum instilled by Winter Olympics preparation.

In Chongli, some facilities have become profitable after years of losses, and others have expanded or planned to expand their slopes to attract more skiers. One of the ski slope 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 served as a window to showcase Hebei's winter culture but also as a platform for the development of winter sports industry.

Li Li, deputy mayor of Zhangjiakou, compared the festival to 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.

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

Newspaper headline: Get your skates on

Posted in: OLYMPICS

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