Greater expectations over Winter Olympic Games
Businesses look forward to a bigger rebound as 2022 comes near
Published: Feb 03, 2021 02:48 PM

Photo shows a construction worker taking photos at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 28, 2021. The ice-making work at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing, also known as the "Ice Ribbon", was completed, meaning the iconic venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics is now ready for test competitions.Photo:China News Service

It's one year left before the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games gets underway,24-year-old cross-country skier Johannes from Trondheim, Norway is intensifying his training regime. "I am really looking forward to the Beijing Winter Olympics and my ambition is fighting for the podium," he said, in a video he posted at a recent event for the celebration of the one-year countdown.

The Beijing Winter Olympics has brought about great expectations for athletes, fans and businesses to be part of the global event as China is the first major economy to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to the China Ice and Snow Tourism Development Report 2021, 230 million people are expected to engage in snow sports during the 2020-2021 ski season, with estimated revenue exceeding 390 billion yuan ($60.3 billion).

Window for cooperation

Statistics show that ski-related enterprises in China are growing year-by-year. By the end of 2020, China was home to more than 5,000 ski-related enterprises, based on media reports.

The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is considered a gateway for international brands, technology and equipment to enter China, particularly from the Nordic countries where professional winter sports are central to local culture.

In an event for the celebration of the One-Year Countdown to Beijing 2022 Games by the Norwegian Embassy in Beijing last week, Norwegian Ambassador Signe Brudeset extended her expectation for more business exchange between China and her country including connected to winter sports infrastructure.

"China has ambitious goal of getting 300 million Chinese to participate in winter sports by 2022, and the more Chinese that get involved in winter sports, the larger the space for Norway and China to cooperate and for Norway to contribute with experiences and expertise," she said.

 "China's winter sports is growing rapidly, and it is basically the only winter sports market that is now operating, thanks to the successful measures that China has taken on controlling the virus," said Juha Tuominen, chairman of the Finnish Business Council Beijing, noting China's market is even more significant than Europe, the main market for Finnish businesses as Europe is still being affected by the epidemic. 

Tuominen predicted that the potential market value for the Finnish companies in winter sports in China may exceed a billion dollars. 

In preparation for the Olympic Games, several collaborations between Chinese and Finnish businesses had already started before the pandemic, including technology-focused cooperation for sports venue construction, winter sports education, and equipment, the Global Times learned.

On January 25, the Wukesong Ice Sports Center, the ice training venue for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, finished producing ice and passed inspection by experts organized by the Beijing Organizing Committee. 

Suomen Tekojaa, a Finnish refrigeration systems producer for ice rinks, has participated in the construction of the cooling system used at the center, which Jerry Mansikkaviita, the head of the company, sees a good sign for future cooperation. 

Before coming to Beijing for the Winer Olympics, they participated in Sotchi Olympics in Russia where they cooperated with several hundred venues for Olympic-level events. 

"In China we are committed to be present and help Chinese ice sport sector to get modern ecological and environment friendly ice cooling technology similarly to that in Finland and in Russia," said Mansikkaviita.

The Winter Olympic Games are not only the attraction spot for the sports brands, Billy Zhong, head of marketing for Voss (China) Beverage Sales Co, a Norwegian spring water company, has recently been in contact with partners in figure skating in a bid to get on the train of the Winter Olympic Games next year.

"At present, the point of entry for working with the Winter Olympics has not been determined, but we believe that the ice and snow sports themselves will definitely be the trend of the development of national sports in China, so hopefully, we can develop our business in this aspect and get closer to our consumers in China," said Zhong.

Rising popularity

China's ambition on winter sports has been rising for years even before the bidding for the Winter Olympic Games in 2022.

The vision that the Winter Olympics will drive 300 million people to participate in snow and ice sports by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Russia in February, 2014 has already become a reality the winter sports is now a way to keep fit and have fun for many Chinese, especially for younger generations, experts said.

Xiaoli, a 21-year-old university student majoring in physical education, works full-time as a ski coach at Beijing Xishan Ski Resort during his winter vacation. "You can tell the facilities and equipment at the ski resorts, especially in Beijing, have been improving. The country released policies to support winter sports such as ski, skate and ice hockey. There are more people coming to ski in the recent years. And winter camps for ski and ice hockey for kids are hot trends," said Xiaoli. 

China's winter sports market value is expected to reach more than 600 billion yuan by 2022, including the increasing investment in the construction, operation, sports equipment and other aspects of the outdoor fields, He Wenyi, executive director of the China Institute for Sports Value at Peking University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

In addition, China has cultivated a large number of snow sports fans requiring improved facilities, while the number of snow and ice venues are for from sufficient, which means greater demand for professional resorts at both home and abroad, He said.