2022 Winter Olympics will be celebrated in Zhangjiakou and Beijing, the first ever city in Olympic history to host both the Summer and Winter Games. The Winter Olympics is now fuelling the chinese’s enthusiasm for active participation in winter sports.
The moment when Bach opened the envelope to announce the winning city for the 2022 Winter Olympics not only excited the Chinese delegation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but also brought great joy to the people of Beijing and Zhangjiakou.
Together with the city of Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province, Beijing’s winning bid to hold the Winter Olympics in 2022 makes itself the first ever city in Olympic history to host both the Summer and Winter Games. Chongli County in Zhangjiakou will no doubt become the centre of world’s attention as it hosts such events as snowboarding, freestyle skiing and ski jumping.
Ninety-two per cent of the Chinese people supported the bid for the Winter Olympics
“An exciting date with pure ice and snow” is the slogan for Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and this date is the one that the Chinese people are looking forward to.
On 16th October 2014, Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Bid Committee invited the public to submit bidding slogans, and it received more than 4,000 responses the next day. In January 2015, not long after the public was encouraged to submit their selfies of activities on ice and snow, over 7,000 photos were received. All these instances of support have shown the Chinese people’s enthusiasm and expectations for the joint Olympic bid by Beijing and Zhangjiakou.
In its assessment of the bids, the IOC conducted a survey to gauge the support for the Games by the residents of the bidding cities. The survey indicated that 92% ofBeijing residents supported the city in holding the Winter Olympics.
No one can provide a better account than the ordinary people who have experienced the changes a major sporting event can bring to a city and a country. Better transportation links, improved environment and more comprehensive amenities are all real improvements that people have witnessed for themselves.
Nowadays, comprehensive socioeconomic development in China has enabled sports to play an ever more prominent role in social functions, arousing pride and a sense of hospitality among the Chinese people. The Beijing Olympics in 2008, Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010, 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, and the 2015 Beijing World Championships in Athletics all took place recently in China. Sporting events are now commonplace in many Chinese cities, and the Chinese people are now able to maintain a more mature and calmer attitude towards the coming of the Winter Olympics.
As the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Chinese people will undoubtedly welcome visitors from across the world with enthusiasm. but they will also expect practical benefits from the Winter Olympics, while their imaginations run free in anticipation of the Winter Olympics.
Ever-rising enthusiasm in people’s participation in winter sports
Yang Yang, a 10-year-old boy who has been practicing ice hockey for four years in a winter sports training centre in Beijing, has great expectation for 2022 Winter Olympics in seven years’ time. “I’ll definitely go and watch the events,” he said, “but I hope I will have the chance to compete there. More and more of my classmates are now beginning to learn how to ski and skate.”
Yang Yang is just one example.
Sports insiders commonly believe that the successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics will be a tremendous impetus to winter sports in China, making them more accessible to a larger number of people.
According to statistics, China currently has more than 500 ski slopes, where more than a million young people take part in winter sports on a regular basis; the three-month long Beijing Festival of Ice and Snow that began at the end of 2014 attracted 1.8 million visitors; on New Year’s Day 2015, the ski slopes and skating rinks in and around Beijing received more than 300,000 visitors, with the number of skiers going to Zhangjiakou increasing by 20%.
China currently has more than 500 ski slopes, where more than a million young people take part in winter sports on a regular basis and the three-month long Beijing Festival of Ice and Snow that began at the end of 2014 attracted 1.8 million visitors
The Winter Olympics is now fuelling the nation’s enthusiasm for active participation in winter sports. To reach the target set by the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Bid Committee for 300 million people to experience winter sports, initiatives such as One Million Youngsters on Ice and Snow, and Northem Winter Sports Going South and West are being implemented.
At the end of June 2015, instructors from skiing associations across China gathered in the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province. There they took technical advice from Li Nina (a world champion in freestyle skiing) and other world champions, so that they can better instruct lovers of winter sports. The speed skating venue, covering 10 hectare, will be the only newly built venue in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and will turn into Beijing’s first skating venue to open all year round after the Winter Olympics, thus securing an all-weather skating facility for the city’s residents.
There are plenty of examples in world sports history where a major sporting event has made a particular sport more popular in the host nation. The FIFA World Cup in America in 1994 enabled football to take root in the “desert of football.” Later in 2002 the FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan helped to push the level of footballing prowess in the two countries to a higher level.
Winter Olympics boosting various industries
It’s more than just sports.
“It’s estimated that business associated with winter sports will generate revenues of more than RMB 300 billion as a result of the Winter Olympics.” said Chen Jian, Deputy President of China Society of Economic Reform and Director of Beijing-Zhangjiakou Winter Olympics Research Centre.
Some experts predict that the sports industry will be the first to benefit from the Winter Olympics, followed by all-round development in infrastructure, tourism and consumption, thus significantly facilitating coordinated development in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province.
Chen Jian also argued that preparation for the Winter Olympics will promote development in many industries. The construction of sporting venues and basic infrastructure will drive development in the construction, environmental protection, real estate, transportation and communications industries. This will facilitate development in sports, tourism and other service sectors, franchised businesses, and investment in real estate.
With growth in these industries, the 2022 Winter Olympics can “create at least 600,000 jobs in Beijing”, claimed Chen Jian. Meanwhile, “around 200,000 jobs will also be created in Zhangjiakou,” said Yi Jiandong, General Planner and Deputy Director of the Legal Department of the 2022 Winter Olympics Bid Committee, and Research Fellow at the Beijing-Zhangjiakou Winter Olympics Research Centre.
The 2022 Winter Olympics can “create at least 600,000 jobs in Beijing”, claimed Chen Jian. Meanwhile, “around 200,000 jobs will also be created in Zhangjiakou,” said Yi Jiandong
Chen lian also claims that the Winter Olympics will be a significant factor in increasing GDP for both Beijing and Zhangjiakou. Before the Winter Olympics, investment in building sporting venues and support infrastructure will gradually increase, which could lead to an average annual GDP growth of 7% for the city of Zbangjiakou; in 2022, consumption related to the running of the Games could help the GDP of Zbangjiakou increase by more than 10%. Yi Jiandong added, “The most important economic impact of the Wmter Olympics will be to adjust and upgrade industrial structure for the area.”
Song Qinghui, a well-known economist, commented, “Against the background of coordinated development in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province, the impact of the cooperation between Beijing and Zbangjiakou will be far-reaching and will jump start their real economy. In the future, the two cities will be able to complement each other and work together in full cooperation.” He also argued that ”from a general perspective, the cooperation between Beijing and Zbangjiakou will have two major impacts on coordinated development in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province: 1) the high-level planning and systematic organization of the coordinated development will erase differences in policy between the two cities in terms of economic development and social security; 2) the two cities can also seek more and deeper cooperation to jointly push forward coordinated development in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province.”
Olympics construction projects already underway
Although the 2022 Winter Olympics is still seven years away, its construction projects have already been fast tracked.
One of the important plans for the near future is to guarantee smooth flow of goods and services in the northwestern region of Beijing.
“Establishing quick transport links between Beijing, Yanqing County and Zhangjiakou will not only meet the needs of organizing the Olympic events,” said Zhou Zhengyu, Director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, “but also provide long-term support for regional economic development.”
According to reports, a Yan-Chong Road linking Yanqing County in Beijing and Chongli County in Zhangjiakou is being planned. Its precise route and scale has yet to be determined, but construction of the road is due to start at the same time in both Beijing and Hebei Province at the end of this year. According to Zhou Zhengyu, the Yan-Chong Road, together with Beijing-Tibet Expressway, Beijing-Zhangjiakou Expressway and Beijing-Urumqi Expressway, will form a one-hour circular in the north-western region of Beijing. This will not only satisfy the infrastructure needs of the Olympic Games, but also the development needs of the north-western region of Beijing.
According to the Development Plan, by 2020, after the implementation of air pollution controls and initiatives, 55% of the electricity consumption in Zhangjiakou will be sustained by renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar.
At present, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, a 173.96 kilometres inter-city railway designed for trains travelling at speeds of 200-350 kilometres per hour, is under construction and due to be finished in 2019. When the line opens, the railway will bring Zhangjiakou within Beijing’s one-hour economic zone with only 20 minutes to Yanqing and 50 minutes to Zhangjiakou.
According to Gao Jinhao, Director of the Department of Transportation for Hebei Province, Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province are currently working together on a combined transportation plan with a definite completion date to eliminate unfinished roads and roads with bottlenecks. He said, “A plan will be worked out from the top down to overcome systemic barriers among the three regions so as to have the same transportation plan for the region with coordinated construction, and joint management of an integrated transportation network.”
As Beijing and Zhangjiakou work together to prepare for the Winter Olympics, the links in transportation between the two cities will be gradually ironed out to establish an integrated transportation network while a three-dimensional network of railways, roads, airports and ports will also start to take shape.
On 29th July 2015, the State Council ratified the Development Plan for Renewable Energies Demonstration Zone in Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province (hereafter referred to as Development Plan) to establish a renewable energies demonstration zone in Zhangjiakou so that a lowcarbon Olympics zone can be built in Zhangjiakou to top international standards.
The zone will be the first of its kind in China to become a coordinated cross-regional demonstration project. It will also be the first time renewable energies will be utilized on such a scale, encompassing socioeconomic areas such as everyday needs, farming, residential use, industrial production, government services and transportation.
According to the Development Plan, by 2020, after the implementation of air pollution controls and initiatives, 55% of the electricity consumption in Zhangjiakou will be sustained by renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar. Air pollution in the city will consequently be greatly reduced with 9 out of 10 days enjoying excellent or good air quality.
Seven years ago, the 2008 Summer Olympics was successful held in Beijing. Seven years later, what surprises will the top winter sporting event hosted in Beijing and Zhangjiakou bring to the world? Let’s wait and see.
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Magazine 40. Volume 5. September 2015.
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