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Host with the most

By Shi Futian | China Daily | Updated: 2022-02-19 07:06
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An ice sculpture of the Great Wall separates media from athletes during an interview at the Yanqing Olympic Village. [Provided to China Daily]

Olympic Village life goes down a treat with world's athletes

Providing the best quality accommodation and living conditions for participants has been a top priority for Beijing 2022 organizers. The resounding praise for the Olympic villages from the world's athletes and coaches confirms they made good on that promise.

"We have provided the athletes with safe and warm services here at the athletes' village, while we always considered the pandemic prevention as a priority,"Cheng Hong, mayor of the Yanqing Olympic Village, told China Daily in an exclusive interview on Friday.

"The jobs for the operation teams at the Beijing Olympics are not easy, and the work at the Olympic villages is especially challenging as we need to be on call 24 hours a day. Our team has been working really hard every day."

There are a total of three Olympic villages at the Beijing Games-in the competition zones at downtown Beijing, its northwest Yanqing district and co-host Zhangjiakou in Hebei province-all providing the same high-quality services.

The Yanqing Olympic Village, which is home to about 1,300 athletes from 87 delegations, welcomed Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, on Feb 11. He inspected the overall operation of the village before having lunch in the athletes' cafeteria.

"If I stay in your village for three days, I will gain another 10 pounds," Bach quipped."The food here is so delicious.

"The volunteers were smiling and full of enthusiasm. I am truly proud of the Yanqing Winter Olympic Village. I am very happy to see that the Winter Olympic Village has consistently maintained a high level of service."

Cheng Hong, mayor of the Yanqing Olympic Village. [Provided to China Daily]

According to Cheng, each meal time at the restaurant involves the cooking and consumption of about 80 roast ducks, 60 kilograms of dumplings and about 160 kg of kung pao chicken.

American snowboarder Tessa Maud, a first-time Olympian, was among the athletes to heap praise on the hospitality and indeed her entire Beijing 2022 experience.

Before heading back home she treated herself to a last meal at the village cafeteria in Zhangjiakou on Feb 12.

The 18-year-old became a sensation on Chinese social media after sharing videos of her time at the Olympic villages.

"I tried sweet and sour pork, pork dumplings, spicy tofu and Dandan noodles. Please tell me more things to try," said Maud in one of her videos, which prompted a deluge of dining suggestions from her new-found Chinese followers.

The schedule of the Beijing Games meant many athletes could celebrate China's traditional Spring Festival and Lantern Festival in Beijing and Zhangjiakou-and the organizers provided a helping hand.

"During Spring Festival, we prepared a series of activities for all the delegations at the village, such as Chinese calligraphy. We taught them how to write 'best wishes' in Chinese characters," said Cheng.

"And during the Lantern Festival, our volunteers performed dragon and lion dances themselves. It was really unexpected that many of the athletes and their delegation members were so excited, and joined the dance too."

A number of exhibits at the Olympic villages also showcase Chinese culture-one of the most popular being an ice sculpture of the Great Wall at the Yanqing site. The ice sculpture of the world-famous structure was used as part of a regular fence in the mixed zone, where reporters interview athletes.

"The Olympics are not only a sporting feast, they are also a great platform for cultural communication. It's a great chance for the host cities to show their traditions and culture. Beijing is a city with over 3,000 years history," said Cheng.

"We have a special section at the Olympic villages that showcase Chinese culture, including the Great Wall and art with Chinese characters. We also have a section devoted to Traditional Chinese Medicine and a place the athletes can also try Chinese kung fu."

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