Successful Olympics amid pandemic will inspire the world: experts
Published: Feb 03, 2021 10:38 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

Chinese people welcomed the one-year countdown to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday with excitement. 

In the coming 365 days, preparations for the Winter Games will enter the final phase. The Olympic venues will be put into operation gradually, and test activities of various events will be held in accordance with epidemic prevention and control requirements. The torch, medals, slogans and theme songs will be released, and the opening and closing ceremonies will also be in full preparation.

Since China won the Olympic bid in 2015, the country has invested a lot in the Winter Games. The winter event has also influenced Chinese people economically, culturally and in their life.

"China has been leading in this [countering COVID-19] effort and has demonstrated in an excellent way how to fight the virus and has made excellent progress, and already has the economy back on track. This is a remarkable success," International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said. 

Analysts said that the all-out preparation for the Winter Olympic Games amid the pandemic shows China's adherence to the Olympic spirit with the common destiny and interests of mankind as the starting point, which will encourage more people to participate in ice and snow sports and overcome difficulties.

Trust the process

The 2022 Winter Games will be held in three clusters: downtown Beijing, Yanqing district of Beijing and Chongli county in Beijing's neighboring city Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province. Just before the one-year countdown to the 2022 Winter Games, construction work of all the 12 venues in the three clusters were completed in December 2020. 

Chongli, a small impoverished county, has become a Mecca for skiers because of the Winter Olympics. Before the Winter Olympics bid, Chongli had only four ski resorts. But now the county boasts of seven large-scale ski resorts, with 169 ski routes. 

China has constructed an expressway and high-speed railway to Chongli from Beijing as part of the Olympic project, reducing travel time to less than an hour. During the 2018-19 snow season, Chongli sold more than 1 million skiing tickets, earning tourism revenue of 2.05 billion yuan, Xinhua reported. In May 2019, Chongli was removed from China's list of poverty-stricken counties.

Sustainability has also played a key role in developing Beijing Olympic venues, as the 2008 Summer Games icons - including the "Birds' Nest" National Stadium, "Water Cube" National Swimming Center, Wukesong Arena - were re-designated to host events and competitions at the 2022 Winter Games. 

Ding Bocheng, an Olympics expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday that due to the anti-epidemic concern, testing events for the Olympics will be conducted in a relatively simple way. 

Some rights groups from overseas have called for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics due to China's "human rights record."However, boycotting the Olympics will hurt only the athletes, as Bach said at an an IOC Session in July that "a sports boycott serves nothing."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a Wednesday briefing that it is irresponsible to try to interfere in the preparations and staging of the Olympics out of political motives, which will not receive the support of the international community, and is destined to fail.

"Winter sports athletes from all over the world are also eager to compete in the Winter Olympics. Preparations for the Beijing Olympics are progressing smoothly and are recognized by the international community, including the International Olympic Committee," Wang said. 

"I believe that athletes, sports fans, and media are willing to come to China as the epidemic is under control in China," said Ding. 

Over the next year, the Beijing organizing committee for the Winter Olympics, the IOC and delegations from other countries will work together to come up with a control policy and detailed operational plan that everyone will be satisfied with, Ding said.

"China's hosting of the Winter Olympics is in line with the Olympic spirit. Under the pandemic, many people are worried about whether human beings can unite together. So a successful Olympic Games is collective challenge to the disaster on human beings, and it will inspire people of all nations," Wang Dazhao, a Beijing-based veteran sports commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

With just one year left until the #2022WinterOlympics begin, Beijing is in full swing preparing for the grand sports gathering despite the pandemic. Graphic: Feng Qingyin, Chen Xia/GT

 Planting a seed

In contrast to China's dominant performances at the Summer Olympics, where Chinese players bagged more than 200 gold medals, Team China remains an emerging force at the Winter Olympics, with only 13 gold medals since first participating in the Lake Placid Games in 1980. Among China's 13 gold medals at the Winter Olympics, 12 were in skating competitions.

Analysts said that hosting the Winter Olympics plays a vital part in promoting snow and ice sports in China, which not only attracts more people's participation in winter sports, but also makes people's way of life more healthy and diversified in winter.

"In China, especially in northern China, people seldom do sports in winter due to the cold weather. But since China won the bid in 2015to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, there has been an upward trend in participating in ice and snow sports," Ding said.

China has vowed to make 300 million people familiarized with winter sports by 2022, when Beijing will become the first city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. More importantly, China is gradually achieving the goal as the 2022 approaches. 

Surnamed Ge, a 27-year-old Hebei-based ski enthusiast, told the Global Times that the successful bidding of the Winter Olympics is a life-changing event for him.

"Thanks to the Winter Olympic Games, I got to know skiing in 2015 and fell in love with it. At that time, I was still a college student and felt confused about the future," said Ge, who was then a sophomore at a university in East China's Shandong Province, and was not that excited about his major - petro-chemistry.

Ge said he participated in a rookie academy in New Zeeland after graduating in 2017, and received a globally recognized ski instructor certificate from the New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance. 

When Ge returned China, he joined a professional ski training institution and sometimes worked as a translator for foreign instructors. He left his job in 2018 to teach English, but found that he still liked skiing, so he moved to Chongli county, and at the same time planned to apply for a postgraduate in motion anatomy at Beijing Sport University.

"I'm glad that I've found something that I'm really passionate about, and I'm so thankful for the sport of skiing and the Winter Olympics," Ge said.