Sports / China

As rio heats up, beijing prepares to cool down

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-01 07:51

As rio heats up, beijing prepares to cool down

Visitors look at a model of the terrain in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, the venue for many of the snow and ice-based events at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Zou Hong / China Daily

Although the 2022 Winter Olympic Games are still more than five years away, the Chinese capital has already started preparing to co-host the event, Sun Xiaochen reports.

As Rio de Janeiro prepares for the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics in just five days, Beijing is looking ahead and laying the groundwork for the 2022 Winter Olympics by drafting preparatory guidelines for the coming six years.

In the year since they were awarded the Games, Beijing and co-host Zhangjiakou in Hebei province have been busy designing venues, training staff and building up infrastructure for the winter sports extravaganza.

"All the planning and preparatory work has been broken down into 102 projects with specific deadlines that cover every aspect of the Games. We've made an early start, so hopefully we can finish ahead of schedule," said Han Zirong, secretary-general of the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Reusing venues

Beijing's commitment to making full use of existing facilities, as highlighted in its successful bid, has given the city an edge in terms of delivering a sustainable and relatively low-cost Games.

According to the city's plan, all ice-based events, such as speedskating, hockey and curling, will be held at five venues, four of which were built for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Only a new National Speed Skating Oval will be built as a permanent venue for speedskating events.

Most of the snow-based events will be staged at refurbished facilities around the Genting Ski Resort in Zhang-jiakou, while the remainder, including alpine skiing and bobsleigh, will be held at temporary venues in Yanqing county in northwest Beijing.

For the new National Speed Skating Oval, the most expensive venue for Beijing 2022, the organizing committee has selected 12 designs from 66 that were submitted to an international architectural design contest launched in June.

On July 22, the 12 designers pitched their work to the organizing committee and conducted field studies into the proposed location, the site of the field hockey and archery events at Beijing 2008.

In November, a panel of judges will narrow the field to three designs, and finally the one judged the most practical will be selected for construction, which is expected to begin early next year, according to the committee's department of planning, construction and sustainability.

"Reusing a 2008 Summer Games site for the 2022 venue accords with Beijing's promise to host the Winter Olympics in a sustainable, frugal way," said Gui Lin, an official with the department.

Last month, officials and experts from the World Curling Federation and International Ski Federation visited the proposed venues for curling and snowboarding at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing and at the Genting resort, offering advice on planning, refurbishing, constructing and operating venues that have high technical requirements, Gui said.

Pan Zhiwei, an official with the organizing committee's international liaison department, said the advice offered will help ensure the success of the Games: "Our smooth communications with the International Olympic Committee and all the winter sports federations have helped make up for our lack of expertise in those areas."

Gui said the designs for new venues and renovation plans will be finalized at the end of the year and all construction is scheduled to be finished by September 2019, when warm-up events will be used to test the facilities.

Construction has already started on a high-speed railway link to connect downtown Beijing with Yanqing and Zhang-jiakou, and the first test runs are expected in 2019, she added.

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