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Olympic legacies reflected in winter sports boom as anniversary nears

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-02 06:55
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Skaters take to the ice at the National Speed Skating Oval, or Ice Ribbon, in Beijing on Jan 26. Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics organizers are preparing events on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the Games' opening. JIA TIANYONG/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Almost one year after the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics opened to international acclaim, Games organizers are utilizing its legacies to bolster the promotion and development of winter sports in the country.

With the success of the event now part of Olympic history, the growing interest in winter sports in China is strong as organizers prepare to celebrate the anniversary of the Games' grand opening on Feb 4 last year.

Highlighted by crowded ski resorts, packed skating rinks and ice and snow carnivals across the country, winter sports participation reached new heights during the recent Spring Festival holidays. Beijing and its surrounding provided a glimpse of the nationwide efforts to further promote winter sports and develop businesses to take advantage of the Games' popularity with the public.

"As a remarkable Olympic year went by, we are celebrating the anniversary to not just recall the exciting moments of the Games, but also usher in the post-Olympic era to make better use of all the legacies of Beijing 2022," Fu Xiaohui, secretary-general of Beijing Olympic City Development Association, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

A special ceremony will be held on Saturday night in western Beijing's Shougang Industrial Park, which was modified to host several Olympic events, to celebrate the anniversary. A series of events, including amateur winter sports competitions, Olympic exhibitions and Olympic venue open days, over the next month, will also start on Saturday.

The main ceremony is expected to welcome 500 participants in the Beijing 2022 Games — including organizing committee staff, athletes, venue operators and volunteers — back to the iconic venue, which hosted freestyle skiing and snowboarding events at the Olympics.

Beijing 2022 organizers, with support from the Beijing Sport University, also released the post-Games legacy and sustainability reports on Wednesday.

The reports offer guidelines for sports governing bodies of all levels, venue owners and government officials on how to make full use of the Games' legacies. This can relate to competition venues, infrastructure, human resources and organizational expertise to popularize winter sports, urban renovation projects in host areas and development of winter sports tourism.

As the official competition venue for speed skating at Beijing 2022, the National Speed Skating Oval was a hot destination for ice sports fans and amateur skaters during the Spring Festival holiday. Over 1,000 tickets for a 90-minute skating session booked out everyday, according to the venue operators.

Remembered by the world for a giant slope built on a former steel mill site, Shougang Industrial Park has attracted over 1 million visitors since the Games closed.

Liang Jie, a deputy general manager of the Shougang Group, an industrial conglomerate, said there are plans to host more international competitions, sports and cultural events and exhibitions at the venue.

"By hosting the Winter Olympics, Shougang has reinvented itself and opened up more business opportunities in the sports sector," said Liang.

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