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Harbin rejoices after it wins bid to host Asian Winter Games in 2025

By ZHOU HUIYING in Harbin | | Updated: 2023-07-10 00:52
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Harbin, the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, will host the 9th Asian Winter Games in 2025. [Photo/Xinhua]

Harbin, the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, will host the 9th Asian Winter Games in 2025, the Olympic Council of Asia announced on Saturday at its 42nd General Assembly held in Bangkok, Thailand. The news has been met with jubilation from residents of the city.

This will be the third time that the regional games will take place in China. Harbin hosted it in 1996 and Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, was the venue for the Games in 2007. The multisport event is usually held every four years.

Harbin, which receives snowfall throughout winter and is a popular destination for skiing and ice skating, has nurtured a number of world-renowned winter sport athletes over the years such as Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, who became the first Chinese skating pair to win an Olympic gold medal in Vancouver in 2010. Speed skaters Zhang Hong and Ren Ziwei also hail from Harbin.

"The hosting of the 9th Asian Winter Games is consistent with Harbin's urban development plan and sustainable development goals," said Zhang Qixiang, the mayor of Harbin, in a speech in Bangkok. "We will fully cooperate with the Olympic Council of Asia, the Chinese Olympic Committee and sports organizations from around the world, including Asia, and provide well-equipped urban facilities and sports venues for a dynamic, open and civilized Asian Winter Games."

Zhang Hong, a member of the International Olympic Committee and a speed skating Olympic champion, said, "As a Harbin native, I feel very honored and proud to welcome the return of the event to Harbin after nearly 30 years." Zhang represented the city as part of the delegation that bid for the Games.

"At the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, Harbin athletes achieved brilliant results and the city has a strong heritage of hosting the Asian Winter Games," she said.

"I am looking forward to welcoming athletes from all over Asia in 2025, not only to realize their winter sports dream here, but also to enjoy the beautiful scenery, the delicious food and the culture of my hometown," she added.

Ren, the Harbin-born skater who claimed two Olympic golds at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, said, "It is a dream for every athlete to participate in sports competitions in his hometown."

"I'm looking forward to winning glory for our country and performing well at the event held in my hometown," he said.

Local residents also organized a series of activities to celebrate the good news.

Hundreds of ice hockey players from primary and middle schools in Pingfang district gathered at the district's ice hockey hall where some players showed off their wonderful ice hockey skills.

"The moment I got the news of the successful bid, I felt proud and excited," said Tang Xinyue, 9, a third grader at a primary school in the district.

"I have learned ice hockey for four years," she said. "When I saw some excellent players from Harbin in the women's ice hockey arena of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, I became determined to train hard and strive to be like them," she added.

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