International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel has claimed that Beijing hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be a big boost to the development of winter sports in China.
Fasel was speaking to China Global Television Network’s Sports Scene in Beijing, where the IIHF Women’s World Championship Division I Group B event was recently held.
The 69-year-old Swiss stated that Wang Yitao, President of the Chinese Ice Hockey Association, was working hard to promote ice hockey in the country.
In May last year, the IIHF voted to guarantee China’s men’s and women’s teams a spot at Beijing 2022.
"If we do not qualify the two teams, I think ice hockey would have little chance to go forward in China," Fasel told Sports Scene.
"The Chinese Ice Hockey Federation has to put structures in place so that we can be sustainable after the Games.
"Actually, that's our main goal, that ice hockey can be sustainable after the Winter Olympic Games in 2022."
The IIHF is said to be working closely with Chinese sports authorities to develop ice hockey in the nation.
"China has a population of nearly 1.4 billion people," Fasel added.
"President Xi Jinping set a goal of 300 million people practising winter sports.
"It's a challenge but if the Chinese want to do it, they will do it."
Previously, the IIHF had reportedly told China its teams needed to improve if they were to justify their automatic spots at Beijing 2022.
According to the China Daily, concerns have been raised that the poor quality of China's teams will lower the standard of the event.
China's men's team are ranked 33rd in the world and have never qualified for the Olympic Games, with only 12 teams allowed to take part.
Only 10 spots are available in the women's event and China are ranked 20th.
China's women have got as far as the Olympic semi-finals before, at Nagano 1998, and managed seventh-place finishes at Salt Lake City 2002 and Vancouver 2010.