Wang Anshun: Beijing 2022 is an excellent stage for the Winter Olympics - and the catalyst for the future of winter sports

Wang Anshun: Beijing 2022 is an excellent stage for the Winter Olympics - and the catalyst for the future of winter sports

As representatives of 109 International Sports Federations gather this week in Sochi for the SportAccord Convention, one question is likely on all participants’ minds: how to ensure that, at a time of pressing economic and political issues, their sports keep developing in a sustainable and healthy way?  

Perhaps the very same question was among those that prompted the International Olympic Committee members to unanimously vote in favour of the Olympic Agenda 2020, a strategic roadmap focused on bringing the Games back to what they should be about: sport - while ensuring sustainability and cost-efficiency of all Olympic projects.

A long-term strong and clear business plan and a genuine passion for sport are two non-negotiable requirements in order for any major sports project or event, let alone an event on such a grand scale as the Olympic Games, to be successful and to continue to address challenges and bring positive sustainable changes to our societies. 

A determination to bring the best conditions and first-class services for both athletes to shine and fans to enjoy the thrill of sport has been a core driver of Beijing 2022’s planning since the bid’s inception, additionally boosted by the rich experience that Beijing acquired through hosting the Games in 2008. It will also continue to guide our planning and delivery of the Games. To plan this experience for the athletes, we have carefully considered and laid out the “end-to-end” athlete journey, including pre-Games, Games-time and post-Games.

In line with our athlete-centred core value, Beijing 2022 has been actively engaging with athletes by bringing a number of Chinese winter sports stars - including Yang, Li Nina, Zhang Hong and many more - on board, ensuring they are involved in the Games plans development all the way since the very beginning of the bid. We will continue to do so, if our bid is successful, by establishing early on an Athletes’ Commission involving athletes from every sport on the programme, which will help ensure that all athletes’ needs are fully met. We are also keen on granting National Olympic and Paralympic Committees access to all venues for their athletes to train and get familiarised with the fields of play prior to the Games - all in consistent coordination with the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee and the International Federations.

Our venue plan ensures the travel time between each venue and its corresponding Olympic Village is as short as possible
Our venue plan ensures the travel time between each venue and its corresponding Olympic Village is as short as possible ©Beijing 2022

In order to create an overall 2022 Games experience with sport at its core combined with great fun, entertainment and cultural opportunities that the cosmopolitan city of Beijing offers, we have carefully designed and will keep adjusting the athlete experience throughout all aspects, from venues to cultural activities, and from medical services to transport.

Our venue plan successfully ensures that the distance and travel time between each venue and its corresponding Olympic Village is as short as possible. All 12 competition venues are within a 15-minute drive from the Olympic Village in the corresponding cluster. All venues and services of the Beijing 2022 Games will be accessible and inclusive. Paralympic athletes will be provided barrier-free facilities and services that meet the standards of the IPC, ensuring that they will be able to once again inspire the world with their outstanding achievements that remind us that nothing is impossible.

The Olympic Villages themselves will reflect athletes’ own visions about what an ideal Olympic Village should deliver in terms of living space, environment, fitness and sporting facilities, food and beverages, accommodation and services. We plan to carefully combine a relaxing environment perfect for competition preparation and a fun, cultural and high-tech environment. As the Olympic Winter Games coincides with the Chinese Spring Festival (also referred to as the Chinese New Year - arguably the liveliest time of the year in China), a large variety of festive and recreational activities, including music, dance and other art performances, will be offered in the Olympic Villages.

Beijing 2008 Games’ experience and legacy will be put to full use in order to provide the athletes with the best experience, all while ensuring sustainability and cost-efficiency of the 2022 Games. This includes eleven out of the twelve competition and non-competition venues in the Beijing Zone, but also broader city and regional infrastructure and a pool of high-level professionals across a number of areas regarding Games operations.

To ensure the delivery of a Games-time atmosphere charged with excitement and rife with cheering fans, Beijing will build on its already strong public support (over 90 per cent of Chinese citizens currently support the Games) to inspire more people to become involved in the Games.  As it already stands, the Chinese Government has successful programmes such as the “300 Million People Winter Sports Plan” aimed at enhancing public knowledge about and participation in winter sports, as well as the “One Million Youth on Ice and Snow Programme” which provides free or low-priced access to winter sports facilities and competitions. Furthermore, a tailored Beijing 2022 Educational Programme will be launched for the young people in China with a particular focus on citizens in Beijing and Zhangjiakou.

China has a genuine passion for sport
China has a genuine passion for sport ©Beijing 2022

Educational activities revolving around Olympic and Paralympic values and winter sports knowledge will be launched across China, particularly among over 300 thousand primary and secondary schools as well as universities. This widespread campaign includes a nation-wide Olympic Winter Games education resources platform that integrates Olympic-themed education websites, social media platforms and micro-lectures.

Igniting a winter sports passion amongst the multitudes of Chinese youth represents an unprecedented opportunity for the sustainability of the Olympic Movement. By bringing the Olympic Winter Games directly to Chinese residents, Beijing 2022 will also bring these people into the Olympic Movement. The Chinese Government has declared the development of the country’s sports industry a top priority, setting a goal for the sector to grow to $800 billion (£535 million/€740 million) by 2025 through promoting sports businesses, developing sport facilities and further expanding an already robust sports market for consumer products and services.

Beijing 2022 will also provide an unprecedented opportunity for Olympic sponsors, as the broadcast potential of the Games in China is immense. Take the following example as evidence of China’s growing interest in winter sports: This season, 1 million Chinese people followed the matches of the National Hockey League thanks to an agreement between the NHL and CCTV - almost as many as in Canada. And recent NBA matches have been watched by no less than 10 million television viewers in China. Imagine what these numbers could become if we brought the world’s best hockey players to compete head-to-head with China’s own rising ice hockey stars at the Chinese fans’ doorsteps…

Finally, Beijing 2022 will have no problem to ensure full stadia through the comprehensive sport promotion programmes in the lead-up to the Games. Beijing 2022 and the Ministry of Education will launch the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Experience Camp, as well as various educational projects, instilling millions of kids and young adults in China with a passion for winter sports and giving them the opportunity to engage with athletes. Also worthy of note, the dates proposed for the Games coincide with schools’ winter vacations, which will enable more kids to enjoy the competitions and to become engaged as volunteers for the Olympic Winter Games.

From cultural traditions cultivated for over five thousand years, to cosmopolitan and world-renowned contributions to hospitality, entertainment and cuisine, right down to a beautiful natural setting, Beijing 2022 offers an all-inclusive proposition.

Beijing 2022 would be a truly joyful Games experience for all those involved
Beijing 2022 would be a truly joyful Games experience for all those involved ©Beijing 2022

Many of you already experienced Beijing through the unforgettable Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Having witnessed it myself, I can say with confidence that the Olympics significantly helped transform Beijing into the international, vibrant metropolis it is today. Beijing has continued to rank among the fastest-developing cities on the planet and in 2022, I would like to invite you to come and re-discover our dynamic capital. Take it from me: This will be a Beijing that you would not recognise, a city that takes delight in constantly exceeding expectations.

With winter sports at its core, spiced with virtually unlimited, world-class entertainment, shopping and hospitality options, as well as cultural and sport activities, Beijing 2022 would be a truly joyful Games experience for all those involved. What’s more, a sporting event staged at the foot of the iconic Great will set a stunning backdrop to showcase Olympic and Paralympic Winter sports to the world, both to spectators in the stadia and at the outdoor venues - not to mention all fans around the world. 

To conclude, a sporting event should not simply strive to put together a successful competition for the world to see; it is also about making the world want more after the event has finished. Overall, our vision can be summarised as: to create a win-win environment both for the development of sport in China, as well as for the development of the Olympic Movement and the International Sport Federations. Through this, Beijing and China can make a historical contribution, one that ensures sport remains a powerful and inspirational endeavour, and that the legacy of the Games endures in the hearts and minds of people around the world for years and years to come.

Jaimie Fuller: Time after time

Jaimie Fuller: Time after time

Time after time, you’ve heard me bang on about the power of sport, so I’m delighted to reflect some positive news that has the International Olympic Committee (IOC) seemingly at its core.

Last week China promised to lift its outright ban on Facebook and Twitter if it wins the right to stage the 2022 Winter Olympics. A simple, social premise perhaps, but for me this was an example of pro-active negotiation that’s so often been missing from bidding processes when there are far more damaging consequences at stake.