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2022 Games on track despite virus

By Sun Xiaochen | | Updated: 2020-05-16 07:40
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Garden workers are transplanting a tree at the Winter Olympic Forest Park in Yanqing district of Beijing on April 22, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, Beijing's preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics keep gaining momentum, with its launch of a plan to host the event sustainably earning recognition from the International Olympic Committee.

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games released its official Sustainability Plan on Friday, pledging that the winter sports extravaganza will be held to benefit the long-term sports, environmental and regional developments in the country.

According to the organizing committee, the plan consists of 12 actions facilitated by 119 measures, which are expected to guide the preparation for and operation of the Games in a sustainable approach that will have a positive environmental impact, boost development of the region and improve people's lives after the Games.

The 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will be held in February and March respectively in 2022 in three zones-Beijing downtown, its northwest Yanqing district and co-host city Zhangjiakou in Hebei province-connected by a high-speed railway, which began operating at the end of December.

With some of the measures already adopted by organizers in multiple aspects of the preparatory work, the plan has taken effect to address issues, such as air pollution prevention, water conservation at mountain venue clusters, carbon neutrality at competition venues, post-Games venue operation and improvement of livelihood for local residents.

"The IOC welcomes the publication of the Beijing 2022 Sustainability Plan as it provides a comprehensive framework for the overall sustainability vision of the Olympic Games Beijing 2022," said Juan Antonio Samaranch, an IOC vice-president and chair of IOC's Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission.

According to the plan, all the 2022 venues will be powered 100 percent by green electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind energies. For the first time in the Games' history, carbon dioxide will be used as refrigerants to make and maintain ice surface at multiple 2022 venues, such as the National Speed Skating Oval for long-track speed skating, to replace the traditional use of the environmentally harmful substance Freon.

The ongoing promotion of a campaign to involve 300 million people in winter sports and related leisure activities will boost public consumption in the winter sports sector and tourism to help new facilities and venues maintain commercial operation beyond 2022, organizers envisioned.

"Beijing 2022 puts sustainability high on its agenda and regards it as an indispensable element of staging a 'green, inclusive, open and clean' Games," said Zhang Jiandong, executive vice-president of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee and vice-mayor of Beijing.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted sporting events around the globe, highlighted by the one-year delay of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics amid the crisis, Chinese organizers are cautiously pushing ahead with their preparatory work for the 2022 Games on all fronts from venue construction to the marketing program and volunteer recruitment and training.

"The preparations in Beijing continue to go very well. The reports are very good coming from Beijing both from the infrastructure side as well as on the operational side," IOC President Thomas Bach said during a teleconference after an online executive board meeting on Thursday.

However, the postponement of the Tokyo Games has raised concerns among observers that the focus on the rescheduled Summer edition, which will open just half a year before Beijing 2022, will draw media attention and sponsorship interest away from the Winter Games.

Bach stressed at the executive board meeting that the next step is to ponder how to make an opportunity out of the crisis.

"We will have to see and consider what advantages it may offer to the organization of Beijing being so close to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, because this will keep and even raise the awareness of the world for the Olympic Games at a very high level, " said the former Olympic fencing champion of Germany.

"There is also an opportunity in this closeness," he added.

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