The Case for a Beijing Winter Olympics -- Exclusive Op Ed

(ATR) What would Beijing 2022 bring to the world? Bid leader Zhang Jiandong provides an answer.


OpEd: What Would Beijing 2022 Bring to the World?

Written by Zhang Jiandong, Executive Vice President of Beijing 2022,Vice Mayor of Beijing

On 6 January, the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee submitted the Candidature File to the International Olympic Committee. The Candidature File was delivered by the delegation headed by Liu Peng, President of the Chinese Olympic Committee and Minister of the General Administration of Sport of China, and Wang Anshun, President of the Bid Committee and Mayor of Beijing, which reflects the significance that the Chinese Government has attached to Beijing 2022 as well as the sincerity of Beijing to host the Games.

The Candidature File is the fruit of many people’s hard work and represents the aspirations of the Chinese people. Each and every commitment and statement in the Candidature File is binding. As an important document for the planning of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the Candidature File represents the solemn pledge of Beijing to the IOC and the international community. We will fulfil each and every word written in the File.

On 31 July, the 128th IOC Session will take place in Kuala Lumpur to elect the Host City for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. I believe a city that is safe, reliable, risk-free will be the first choice of the IOC. Beijing is exactly such a city.

1. Why Would Beijing Still Launch the Bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games after Hosting Beijing 2008?

In 2001, we won the right to host the Games of the XXIX Olympiad and delivered a "truly exceptional and high-level" edition of the Summer Olympic Games in 2008, which created valuable Olympic legacies for China and the world. Today, we are bidding to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, which is based on the following considerations:

First, hosting the Games will allow the Chinese people to fulfil their passion and aspiration for ice and snow sports. As a result of a nation’s economic and social development, the need of its people for fitness, sports and leisure will continuously increase as well. As summer sports have been highly popularised in China, the Chinese people, no matter in Beijing or across the country, have an increasingly strong enthusiasm for winter sports in recent years, and more and more people are taking part in ice and snow sports. For example, Chongli has been developing its snow resorts for more than a decade, and about 3 to 4 million people go there for skiing every year.

According to the national goal to build a well-off society in all aspects by 2020, China’s ice and snow sports will be more popularised and the facilities will be further improved by then. Currently, we have developed the educational programme to popularise knowledge about ice and snow sports among the youth, which will encourage 400 million youths to pay attention to and get interested in winter sports. There is no doubt that our bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games will facilitate the popularisation of winter sports in China, accelerate the construction of winter sports facilities, promote the coordinated development of China’s competitive sports and sport for all, and balance the development of China’s summer and winter sports. The bid for Beijing 2022 is a livelihood project for the people, which will help to enhance not only the competition skills of Chinese athletes, but also the physical fitness of the Chinese people, directly promoting ice and snow sports among 300 million people and satisfying the need of the public for participating in winter sports.

Second, hosting the Games will promote the coordinated and integrated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. The joint bid of Beijing and Zhangjiakou for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games is fully aligned with the National Strategy of Coordinated and Integrated Development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region (hereafter referred to as the National Strategy), which is being implemented. The joint bid of Beijing and Zhangjiakou will greatly promote the infrastructure construction, such as transport infrastructure, air pollution control, and environmental protection in this region, enhance city construction and management level, raise people’s living standard, and propel the development of the ice and snow sports industry, particularly for the industries of ice-and-snow sports outfits and equipment, cable ways, tourism and catering. China’s ice and snow sports will offer a vast market for the whole world. The implementation of the National Strategy will also create favourable conditions and lay a solid base for the bid for Beijing 2022. It is therefore a good project for both our nation and our people.

Third, hosting the Games will enhance the dissemination of the Olympic values and promote the development of the Olympic Movement. President Xi Jinping said that bidding for and hosting the Olympic Winter Games would encourage 300 million people in the north of China to participate in the ice and snow sports. We can envisage, from a global perspective, the significance of having 300 million more people to participate in winter sports, especially popularising Olympic education among 400 million young people in China, promoting the Olympic values, and cultivating a healthy lifestyle for the public. All these are what the people need and will be important contributions to the development of the Olympic Movement.

Fourth, both Beijing and Zhangjiakou have the necessary natural conditions, venues and facilities for hosting the Olympic Winter Games. According to the master plan of the competition venues, Beijing 2022 will take place in three Games Zones, namely Beijing Zone, Yanqing Zone and Zhangjiakou Zone. All ice sports competitions of Beijing 2022 will be held in Beijing Zone, and most of the competition venues will be existing venues from Beijing 2008, which has been clearly indicated in our Candidature File. The snow sports competitions will take place in Yanqing Zone and Zhangjiakou Zone, where the natural conditions such as mountains, terrains, temperatures, humidity, elevations, gradients and directions all agree with the requirements of the Olympic winter sports. So far, all the venues proposed for Beijing 2022 have been approved by the IFs of winter sports.

2. Beijing’s Advantages in Bidding for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

First, Beijing enjoys political stability, economic prosperity and social harmony, which are the foundations and a guarantee for hosting the Olympic Winter Games. It takes eight years from being elected as the Host City for the Olympic Winter Games, so a stable and harmonious social environment is required. The joint bid of Beijing and Zhangjiakou for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games enjoys strong support from the Chinese state leaders and governments at all levels. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have expressed their firm support on many occasions. The Chinese National Government has pledged to provide all-round support and guarantee for the success of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Beijing Municipal Government and Hebei Provincial Government have also expressed their full support for the bid work of the Bid Committee.

Second, the 1.3 billion Chinese people are in full support of the bid and looking forward to Beijing 2022. In recent years, winter sports have been developing fast in China and gaining increasing popularity among Chinese people. Ice sports are very popular in China, and for some ice sports, Chinese athletes have achieved leading positions in the world. Currently, Beijing has 96 ice hockey clubs for the youth, with more than 2,000 registered members, all of whom are teenagers taking part in ice hockey training during their spare time. In addition, there are nearly 20 ski grounds in the suburban areas of Beijing.

Chongli County of Zhangjiakou has an even longer history in developing ski sports, where there are more than a dozen ski resorts and nearly 100 skiing tracks. In winter, not only Chinese people but also foreign tourists and athletes from winter sports powers like the U.S., Canada and European countries will come to Chongli for skiing. According to a poll conducted by a professional survey institute in 32 cities across China, 91.8% of Beijing citizens and 99.5% of Zhangjiakou citizens support the bid, and the average support rate of all these cities has reached 94.8%.

Third, the Olympic legacies will be fully utilised to reduce the cost of the Games. If Beijing wins the bid, the venues of Beijing 2008 will be used for ice sports competitions. There is only one that needs to be built for speed skating, regardless of the result of the bid. For snow sports competitions in Chongli County of Zhangjiakou, most of the existing facilities will be used for the Games after some renovations as required by the relevant IFs, and only a few venues need to be built.

Fourth, we are highly capable of hosting large-scale international sports event, with great advantages in terms of capability, knowledge and human resources. We hosted the 2008 Olympic Games, the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games and many world-level winter single-sport events. In the coming August, Beijing will host the World Athletics Championships, which is the largest sport event in the world this year. In the next few years, Beijing and Zhangjiakou will introduce even more world-level ice and snow events to further enhance the capability to host winter sports events, thereby laying an even better foundation for hosting the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

3. Concepts of Beijing 2022

The concepts for Beijing’s bid were proposed based on the development of the city and the requirements of the IOC. When Beijing made its first bid for the Olympic Games in 1991, the concept was "An open China is expecting the Olympics", which expressed our wish to let the world know more about China. When Beijing bid for the 2008 Olympic Games in 2001, it had a relatively mature concept, that is, "Green Olympics, Hi-tech Olympics and People’s Olympics", which was in agreement with Beijing’s goal for integrated development. For the current bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, our concepts are "running athletes-centred Games, ensuring sustainable development, and hosting economical Games", which are aligned with the requirements of China’s development and in total accord with the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020.

The first concept is running athletes-centered Games, which requires us to give the first priority to the convenience of the athletes during the Games, providing them with quality services in aspects of training, competition, transport, accommodation, food and beverage, medical services and cultural exchange, in order to help the athletes achieve their best performance and realise their dreams. For the athletes participating in the Paralympic Winter Games, we shall provide them with accessible facilities and services that meet the standard of the International Paralympic Committee. Meanwhile, the Organising Committee will also attach importance to the services for the members of the Olympic Family, media, broadcasters, spectators, sponsors and other client groups, offering them a memorable experience during the Games.

The second concept is ensuring sustainable development. Sports event and city development benefit each other. It is commonly recognised in the world that hosting the Olympic Games will promote the development of the Host Cities and in return, city development will also effectively guarantee the success of the Olympic Games. The Olympic Winter Games are not only a significant international sports event, but also represent a rare opportunity to accelerate the sustainable development of a city, region and even a country. The Chinese National Government and local governments of Beijing and Zhangjiakou have incorporated Beijing 2022 into the National Strategy and the long-term regional development plan. We will combine the bid for and hosting of the Games with the improvement of the urban ecological environment, economic development and social advancement, to guarantee the success of the Olympic Winter Games through city development, and accelerate city development through hosting the Games, thereby setting a model of positive interaction and mutual development between the Olympic Movement and the Host City.

The third concept is hosting economical Games. The Bid Committee has adhered to the principle of being "scientific, prudent, and feasible" in developing the budget for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Emphasis will be placed on the integration with regional development strategy, market-based marketing for fund raising, strengthening of internal management and strict control of the Games operation cost. In terms of venues, 11 out of the 12 competition and non-competition venues needed for the Games in Beijing Zone are legacies from Beijing 2008. To meet the need of the Games is the criteria we set for the construction of all newly built venues. To follow this principle, we will use temporary facilities or the combination of temporary and permanent facilities wherever possible, take the need for accessibility into full consideration, and fully rely on social resources in the aspects of construction and post-Games use of the venues. In addition, we plan to hold the competitions in three Games Zones, namely Beijing Zone, Yanqing Zone and Zhangjiakou Zone in order to facilitate the post-Games use of the venues and achieve the result of being cost-effective in the long run.

The submission of the Candidature File marks the entry of a new phase of Beijing’s bid. We will take this as a start and continue to strictly follow the requirements of the IOC in the next phase of the bid. Currently, we are actively preparing for the visit of the IOC Evaluation Commission. We will listen attentively to the comments and advice of the Commission to improve our work. For the next step, we will enhance our cooperation and communication with the IOC and IFs of winter sports, and actively participate in various single-sport events to learn more knowledge and accumulate more experience.

To conclude, I would like to say that we have the confidence, determination, abilities and sincerity to deliver a splendid, joyful, pure and safe edition of the Olympic Winter Games. We will fulfil our commitments to the international community and the IOC, making our due contributions to the development of the Olympic Movement.

Written by Zhang Jiandong, Executive Vice President of Beijing 2022,Vice Mayor of Beijing

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