‘Dual Olympics’ volunteer witnesses tremendous changes, hopes more people feel real Beijing again
Published: Jan 27, 2022 08:48 PM
Photo shows Tao Zhenguo,a volunteer of Beijing's dual Olympics. Photo: Beijing Daily

Photo shows Tao Zhenguo,a volunteer of Beijing's "dual Olympics." Photo: Beijing Daily

A Beijing 2008 Olympics volunteer who also participated in preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics said that the volunteer work has evolved as Beijing has undergone earth-shaking changes in the past decade and expressed hopes that more people can feel the real Beijing again. 

Tao Zhenguo shared his experience and feelings about serving Beijing's "dual Olympics" in an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Thursday. The 78-year-old Beijing resident was a representative who initiated a campaign for all volunteers to "serve the Olympic Games with a smile" in 2008.

By winning the host bid for the 2022 Winter Games in 2015, Beijing will become the first city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

As a volunteer in charge of maintaining community security and order during the summer Games, Tao noted that the environment and social order in Beijing have hugely improved since 2008, which also brought about new requirements for volunteers for the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

During the Summer Games, the most common task for volunteers was to clean up "illegal ads", also known as "city psoriasis," which could be seen on walls, piers and utility poles in the city at the time. "We each had to take a small watering can and a shovel to clean them every day, otherwise the city would be disfigured by them," Tao said. 

However, such ads can hardly be found in today's Beijing. The task nowadays has changed to regulating shared bikes by placing them more neatly to provide more convenience to pedestrians, he said.

Tao also noted that as technology advances, volunteers can provide more accurate information with smartphones to help those in need, which is a big improvement from the situation in 2008, when they had to personally guide tourists from outside Beijing and overseas during the Summer Games. 

Volunteers in the service of the Winter Olympics also undertake the task of publicity and actively give people knowledge of the Winter Olympics, such as winter sports activities, venues, and the rules of competitions, Tao said.  

He noticed that more and more people are inspired by the Winter Olympics to participate in winter sports. "I can see the growing enthusiasm of the masses during my work," he said.

China achieved its goal of attracting 300 million people to join in winter sports by October 2021, with a total of 346 million people participating, according to a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics. 

China's ice-snow tourism industry has seen a period of rapid development, driven by factors including the growing number of people participating in winter sports and the hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympics. 

Photo shows Tao Zhenguo,a volunteer of Beijing's dual Olympics, with his grandson.Photo: Beijing Daily

Photo shows Tao Zhenguo,a volunteer of Beijing's "dual Olympics," with his grandson.Photo: Beijing Daily

Looking back at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China and the Olympics made each other better. The 2008 Games presented a democratic, open, civilized, friendly and confident China to the world, and China emerged as a key player in international affairs, and particularly as a major presence in the global market.

Tao mentioned his 13-year-old grandson, an "Olympic baby" born in 2008, who is volunteering with him at the Winter Olympics. "Now that he's grown up, I want to pass on this spirit to him, and do what we can for the Olympic Games, for society, and for our country," Tao said.

"The sense of well-being and security that we have living here is beyond description, all thanks to China's rapid growth over the years," he said, noting that with the opportunity of the Winter Olympics, he hopes the world can once again experience the real China up close.