Hangzhou Asian Games Village opens
Athletes, OCA officials speak highly of event preparation
Published: Sep 17, 2023 10:12 PM
Asian Games mascots and volunteers dressed in traditional ethnic costumes welcome journalists from across the world at the main media center of the Asian Games in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, on September 17, 2023. The Games are set to be held in the city from September 23 to October 8. Photo: VCG

Asian Games mascots and volunteers dressed in traditional ethnic costumes welcome journalists from across the world at the main media center of the Asian Games in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, on September 17, 2023. The Games are set to be held in the city from September 23 to October 8. Photo: VCG

The Hangzhou Asian Games Village officially opened its doors to welcome athletes from all over the region on Saturday, as the highly anticipated 19th Asian Games are set to kick off in one week's time. 

On Sunday, Global Times reporters visited a number of Asian Games venues to take a close look at the oft-talkedabout places and experience the energetic city ahead of the main event. The facility goes beyond providing the basics of accommodation, dining and transportation, offering a myriad of services, including cultural and technological exhibitions, medical facilities and commercial amenities. 

Vinod Kumar Tiwari, the acting director general of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), praised the "innovative" concept of the Asian Games Village at the opening ceremony. He emphasized that the Asian Games Village showcases the solidarity and unity of the Olympic movement in Asia, noting it was also the first of its kind in the history of the Asian Games and even Olympic Games, according to a post published on the website of the OCA.

"We believe the quality of life at the Asian Games Village can lay the foundation for a smooth and successful Hangzhou Asian Games," he noted.

Spanning an area of 1.13 million square meters, the village comprises athlete, technical and media villages, making it the largest non-competition venue at the Games and a location many are likely to spend a lot of time in. 

China's sports delegation was the first to check in at the Hangzhou's Asian Games Village when it officially opened on Saturday. Some athletes who already experienced the village said it has "exceeded their expectations."

"In terms of architecture, accommodation and dining, the village has exceeded my expectations. The environment and services are exceptional, making me even more excited about the upcoming events," Tokyo Olympic triple jump silver medalist Zhu Yaming told the Xinhua News Agency on Saturday.

One of the unique features of this year's athletes' village is its emphasis on sustainability and the promotion of traditional Chinese culture and technology. In line with Hangzhou's commitment to being a "zero-waste" city and green sports, it features a "zero-waste" living center constructed from eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient lighting and recycling facilities.

Athletes can also learn about traditional Chinese customs at the village, and experience traditional Chinese handicrafts, such as Chinese button knotting and bamboo weaving.

On Sunday, the Global Times reporters took a tour of the competition venues located in Shaoxing, a neighboring city of Hangzhou. 

The Shaoxing Baseball & Softball Sports Centre was inspired by weaving and silk ribbons, which are the most known specialties of Shaoxing. 

A volunteer supervisor at the Shaoxing Baseball & Softball Sports Centre, surnamed Tong, told the Global Times that a total of 863 volunteers, all born in the 2000s, are contributing their services at the venue. These students cover 16 different languages, including English, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Persian.

Wang Rong, one of the volunteers serving at the baseball facility, expressed excitement about her role. She aspires to provide the best service to every volunteer and athlete, hoping they feel right at home in Shaoxing and Hangzhou. 

"I hope they can achieve outstanding results in their competitions," she said.

A staff member at the baseball venue noted that after the Games conclude, the facility will continue to host national-level events and other competitions, ensuring its long-term use.

The Shaoxing Keqiao Yangshan Sport Climbing Center is another venue located in Shaoxing. The climbing center boasts a semi-open design with a total built-up area of 9,000 square meters. It was developed from a former abandoned mine and has now become an international competition venue. 

The architectural design, which makes it look like a "silkworm cocoon" when viewed from above, was influenced by the silk industry in the Keqiao district, which is known for its textile factories.

Huang Huiming, the chief designer of the climbing center and torchbearer for the Hangzhou Asian Games, told the Global Times that the venue's design also embodies the principles of eco-friendliness. 

According to Huang, 55 percent of the venue are open and semi-open spaces that will reduce energy consumption, making it low-carbon and eco-friendly, with sunshade and energy-saving effects.

"In the design of the center, Chinese landscapes blend seamlessly with international competitions, while traditional culture harmonizes with contemporary elements, fully showcasing the confidence of Chinese architectural culture," he added.

During the Hangzhou Asian Games, the center will host climbing events including speed, speed relay, and mixed competitions, awarding a total of six gold medals.

This venue will maximize its post-event value by hosting climbing competitions from around the world, serving as a training base and experience venue for climbers and enthusiasts, and evolving into a leisure tourism destination for the public, a staff member said.

Beyond the Games' operating venues, Hangzhou has embraced the spirit of the event throughout the city. The newly-built T4 terminal at the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport is adorned with Asian Games banners and sponsor advertisements. Streets are lined with promotional banners, mascots and colorful floral installations, adding to the event atmosphere.

According to the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee, all 45 Olympic committees from Asian countries and regions have registered to participate in the Games, which are set to run from September 23 to October 8. Many are set to send their most substantial delegations in history, according to Xinhua.