By Xinhua writer Bai Lin, Ji Ye
BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- 2022 Beijing Winter Games is hotly discussed by the national legislators and top political advisors during China's ongoing "two sessions", an annual event that takes place in Beijing.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China. Over the past decades, the country has risen from shambles into the world's second-largest economy. To host an excellent Olympic Winter Games in less than three years is one of China's main task. Good preparation for the Games and Paralympic Games have listed in this year's government work report, which arouses great discussion these days.
TIME LIMITED, TASK HEAVY
"Time is limited and tasks are heavy as the first trial event, Alpine ski World Cup will be held in the Yanqing zone in next February. National Alpine Skiing Center is set to meet the trial event requirements by the end of October this year and all the other competition venues will be completed and ready for trial events next year," said Shen Jin, a CPPCC National committee member and deputy director of venue planning and construction department of the Games' organizing committee.
It is widely acknowledged by the advisors that China is quite lacking in professional personnel for organizing competitions, referees and technical officials due to its weak basis of winter sports. Therefore, to establish a professional and international team is urgently needed.
Wang Yanxia, a CPPCC National committee member and deputy director of sports department of the Games' organizing committee, said that 1,000 domestic technical officials for all the 15 disciplines of the Games were cultivated and 25 international experts in planning and organizing competitions were brought in last year. Another 470 domestic personnel have been trained through competitions held both at home and abroad.
So far, the preparation work for the Games is going smoothly in terms of venues and infrastructure construction, technology supporting, meteorological guarantee, transportation, market developing and many other aspects.
Wu Weidong, an NPC deputy and mayor of Zhangjiakou city, said all the 76 venues and infrastructure construction projects of the Games' Zhangjiakou zone will be completed by the end of next August, when a beautiful picture of history, culture, natural landscape and modern architecture will be shown to the public in the mountainous Chongli.
Smart technology will be widely used in the venues' construction. Wang Yanxia said, for example, the National Speed Skating Oval, the only newly-built ice venue in Beijing competition zone, will provide athletes with a digital system for timing and speed measurement, and provide spectators with intelligent seat guidance and analysis for real-time event.
"Meteorological guarantee is crucial for the Winter Games, as 70 percent of the Games' gold medals will be awarded in the snow events, which are greatly affected by the weather conditions. The weather forecast during the Games will be accurate to every ten minutes and every 100 meters," said Zhang Jiandong, an NPC deputy and Executive Vice President of Beijing 2022.
The meteorological service center for the Games has been established and 52 weather forecasters have set up a team to ensure every competition venue has full-time weather forecasters during the Games.
Wang Yanxia said that weather stations are required to be built at all snow venues, and the 43 weather stations that have been set up are collecting meteorological data to build accurate weather forecast models for the Games.
The high-speed railway linking Beijing and Zhangjiakou will operate this year, and the expressway between Beijing's Yanqing and Zhangjiakou's Chongli, the two competition zones of the 2022 Winter Olympics, will also go into operation this year.
The organizing committee has signed contracts with eight official partners and started soliciting second-level official sponsors. More than 350 kinds of franchising products have been developed and sold through online and offline retail stores. The total revenue has surpassed 100 million yuan ( 14.91 million U.S. dollars).
"The mascots will be released and a collection of songs and slogans will be carried out in the second half of this year," Zhang Jiandong added.
According to the preparation plan, volunteer recruitment will be officially launched next year.
PARTICIPATE IN ALL EVENTS, SEEMINGLY MISSION IMPOSSIBLE
Top political advisers' proposals should be heard by the officials in charge of the relevant work. Gao Zhidan, deputy director of China's General Administration of Sport, came to attend a meeting by political advisors from sports sector. He revealed that Chinese delegation is required to take part in all the 109 events at the 2022 Games, which is a basic requirement but a huge challenge.
Since China's first participation in the Winter Olympics in 1980, only Team USA has managed to compete in all available events, doing so in 1980 in Lake Placid (38 events) and in Salt Lake City in 2002 (78 events), both times as hosts.
Prior to being awarded the 2022 Games, China had yet to compete in one-third of the events slated for Beijing 2022. While one third had been competitive and one third had far lagged behind the leading countries. China won only nine medals including one gold medal in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Gao said that all the national teams covering 109 events of the Games have been set up through selecting talents from different sports and different disciplines of the same sport.
Li Yingchuan, a CPPCC National committee member and deputy director of China's General Administration of Sport said that more than 20,000 people from track and field, martial arts, gymnastics, dance, acrobatics and other sports have taken part in the selection of winter sports athletes since 2017.
"We are moving towards a winter sports power from a very low starting point. But we have confidence to make breakthroughs in 2022," Gao said.
Except for preparation works, the legacy is warmly discussed by the advisors. Beijing 2022 will be the first Games to deliver a legacy plan in line with Olympic Agenda 2020, the New Norm and the IOC's resulting Legacy Strategic Approach, which aims to help host cities incorporate lasting benefits before, during and after the Games.
Beijing 2022 revealed its legacy plan for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on February 19. Beijing 2022 and its delivery partners will focus on seven themes - sports, society, economy, culture, environment, urban development and regional development.
China's first winter Olympic champion Yang Yang, a CPPCC national committee member, former IOC member and current Chair of the Athletes' Commission for Beijing 2022, said that besides the above seven themes, to promote the stories happened in the venues pass on to the next generation is of the same importance.
"Last year I took my family to Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, the stadium where I won the gold medal had become the Utah jazz stadium and there's no trace of the Games," Yang explained.
Yang suggested that a memorial wall should be set up in all the venues of the 2022 Games to leave the names of the competitors and the handprint of the winners.
"It will give athletes a sense of belonging to Beijing 2022 and enable people to recall the Olympic stories through concrete things," Yang added.
300 MILLION PEOPLE PARTICIPATION, SOLEMN PROMISE BEING FULFILLED
The plan raised by Chinese President Xi Jinping to make 300 million people familiar with winter sports obviously already works. According to the official statistics, 50 million people have directly participated in the ice and snow sports by last October, driving the total participation amount to 150 million. Until then, more than 800 snow resorts have been built across China.
Ding Shizhong, an NPC deputy and chairman of ANTA, a top sports wear manufacturer in China, pointed out more than 13.3 million Chinese have participated in skiing, but more than 75 percent only for a one-off experience. The high expense is one of the reasons.
Some deputies and advisors suggest the cost of ice and snow sports should be reduced to make it affordable for ordinary people and profitable for enterprises, which tops the high priority for mass popularization.
Yang said the electricity price is too high for ice and snow venues operators. She suggest government should give electricity subsidies to the relevant enterprises, which can offer lower prices to the public.
Safety problem attracts common concern. Xie Minhao, a CPPCC national committee member and director of the institute of sports medicine of China's General Administration of Sport, calculated it like this: "With 300 million people's participation, if one out of every 1,000 is be to injured, the injured number will amount to 300,000."
Feng Jianzhong, a CPPCC national committee member and vice president of the Chinese Olympic Committee said that professional personnel should be present where people ski and skate.
However, most venues can not provide professional medical service for the injured in the first time. Xie suggested that service platform for injury prevention and treatment should be constructed in the venues, which should also establish firm relationship with 120 and 999. Helicopter rescue should be permitted and carried out to avoid treatment delaying of major injuries.
The supply side reform is attached with great importance for mass popularization. Ding Shizhong believes only by promoting consumption upgrading can the mass enthusiasm keeps long. He proposed China should develop independent brands of ice and snow sports, and establish a system for winter sports competition system including professional leagues and youth leagues.
The emphasis of mass popularization lies on the youth. Ding calls for a standard for ice and snow sports. He also suggested, schools can integrate ice and snow sports teaching into the physical education class, and make the youth participate in the ice and snow through VR, e-sports and other high-tech platforms.
A lack of venues is another bottleneck for popularization. Zhangjiakou is expected to build 30 ski resorts and over 20 towns featuring ice and snow to meet the demands of 20 million people annually by 2025, said Wu Weidong.