Sustainability under spotlight as industry insiders discuss China’s winter sports development post-Beijing 2022 Olympics
Published: Sep 17, 2023 10:31 PM
Big Air Shougang, the venue for big air events at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Photo: VCG

Big Air Shougang, the venue for big air events at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Photo: VCG

The annual World Winter Sports Expo (WWSE) came to an end in Beijing on Sunday. During the three-day expo, sustainability in the further development of winter sports following the Beijing Winter Olympic Games  in 2022 was underlined.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have been a significant driver for the country's winter sports in recent years, with lasting legacies in venues, talents and culture.

China's winter sports industry is expected to reach 1 trillion yuan (about $140 billion) by 2025, according to Zhang Li, executive vice president of the Asia Digital Group, which organized the expo.

"The number is estimated to hit 890 billion yuan in 2023, according to the current report on the development of China's winter sports industry, so the 1 trillion target could be achieved soon," Zhang told the conference during the WWSE, which was held from Friday to Sunday at  Shougang Park - one of the 2022 Olympic venues.

Zhao Yinggang, deputy director of the sustainability development committee of the Beijing Winter Olympics, said that the number of venues for ice and snow sports in China have drastically increased.

"Our country has rapidly developed a total of 2,261 ice and snow venues, which consist of 1,450 ice rinks and 881 ski resorts," Zhao told the conference. 

"It can be said that in recent years, China's fast development has resulted in the largest quantity and highest quality of ice and snow venues."

In a video speech, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the hosting of the World Winter Sports Expo builds on the great legacy of the Beijing 2022.

Hosting high-level sporting events not only better serves the public, but also allows more young people to experience the ice and snow venues, Zhao added, as the venues for the 2022 Games have already been put into operation for future high-profile events.

The upcoming winter season will see a number of world-level winter sports events take place in Beijing, including the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of figure skating, the ISU World Cup short track speed skating series, and the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) Big Air competitions.

"The Olympics is never just a competition. It has already transcended that role through injecting vitality into our economic growth," Zhao said. 

Yang Yang, China's first-ever Olympic gold medalist and now vice president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said she is delighted to see the participation of more young people in winter sports, noting that the potential after the Olympics has been higher. 

"I am delighted to see more people, particularly the youth, join in winter sports. They are our hope and future," said Yang.

"The Winter Olympics is a starting point for developing winter sports as it draws nationwide attention to the charm of ice and snow sports, which makes it possible for more individuals to step onto ice and snow. That's why I insist that we will see a greater potential in this field post-Games."