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Plans laid for economical Winter Olympics

By Hou Liqiang | China Daily | Updated: 2016-09-03 08:19

All but one venue in Beijing will take advantage of facilities built for 2008 Summer Games

The public will be able to enjoy legacies of both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, thanks to Beijing's promise to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in a sustainable and cost-effective way.

The planning and construction of venues for the Winter Games will demonstrate sustainable development, said Han Zirong, secretary-general of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

There will be 25 venues for the Winter Games, and 11 of the 12 located in Beijing are legacies of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.

The office of the organizing committee was transformed from a little-used complex in Beijing that once housed the silos of a major steelmaker - Shougang Group - with abandoned furnaces and smokestacks still in sight.

Some of the venues will be remolded to serve the Winter Games using removable structures that can be put up or taken down depending on need. The public will enjoy summer and winter sports at the same venue.

For example, the National Aquatics Center will host curling events. Yang Qiyong, general manager of the company that runs the center, said a dismountable refrigeration system will be used to transform the Water Cube from a swimming facility into a standard ice-covered curling venue with four tracks.

"The system will be dismantled and assembled at least once a year after 2022," he said. "It's a better time to assemble the system in winter, considering energy cost, and the swimming facility will be restored in summer. Thus the legacy of the two Games will be preserved and the public will be able to enjoy two states of the water in the Water Cube."

Wukesong Arena, host of the 2008 Summer Olympics basketball tournament, will host ice hockey events in 2022. Yuan Yinghui, spokeswoman for the center's operation, said hosting skating events was considered as one of the venue's post-Games functions from the start, and an ice-making system was installed beneath the basketball court during its construction in 2005.

"The hardwood floors can be replaced with an ice surface quickly," she said. "The arena has hosted Amazing on Ice, a world-class figure skating show, for the past three years."

A new National Speed Skating Oval - the only new facility to be built in Beijing - will be a permanent venue for long-track speedskating events. The oval will be constructed on the site of the summer venues for archery and field hockey for the 2008 Games, with infrastructure including water, gas and heating facilities reused, said Gui Lin, an official with the 2022 organizing committee.

Gui said an international architectural design contest for the National Speed Skating Oval is underway, adding that the rink must be able to be separated into smaller ones with independent ice-making and air conditioning systems to diversify the venue's post-Games functions. The rink has to meet the needs of five varieties of ice sports simultaneously.

After the Games, the oval will be transformed into an ice-sports center that operates all year long. While hosting skating, hockey and curling events, it will also be open to the public.

The iconic Bird's Nest, the main stadium for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, will host the 2022 Winter Games' opening and closing ceremonies. The China National Convention Center will again serve as the international broadcast center, as it did in 2008.

The Winter Games will be hosted at three venue clusters - in downtown Beijing, in the capital's northwestern Yanqing county and in Zhangjiakou.

Ma Yujun, mayor of Zhangjiakou, said the city will fully consider post-Games functions and use of venues in planning, "with great importance attached to practicality and eco-protection".

The construction of new venues and the remolding of old ones will start in 2017, with completion scheduled for June 2021.

Steps toward the Games

On Dec 15, the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games was established.

In May, the office of the Beijing organizing committee was established in a disused complex in Beijing that once housed major steelmaker Shougang Group.

On June 12, Beijing officially named the soaring structure - the "Beijing Olympic Tower" - at the north end of the Olympic Park. The city was authorized to permanently hang the Olympic icon "Five Rings" on top of the tower.

On July 22, the Beijing municipal government consigned the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning to sponsor the International Competition of Architectural Conceptual Designs for the National Speed Skating Oval, an iconic venue for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

On July 31, the official website of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games went online.

(China Daily 09/03/2016 page18)

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