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Shaanxi's stellar preparations whet appetite for showpiece

By SHI FUTIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-05-17 09:52
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Long jumper Gao Xinglong leaps at full stretch during last month's track-and-field test event for China's 14th National Games at the newly built Xi'an Olympic Sports Center. CHINA DAILY

Boasting venues, facilities and services that would be the envy of most global championships, China's 14th National Games are shaping up to be a mightily impressive affair.

With host Shaanxi pulling out all the stops to deliver on its promise of staging a "streamlined, safe and splendid" Games, all 53 venues for September's showpiece have been completed, and the province is now busy conducting a series of comprehensive test events.

"We have entered the final stage of preparations for the National Games. All 53 stadiums and venues across 13 cities of the province are now ready, among which 30 are newly built and 23 are renovated," said Cheng Ningbo, the deputy director of the publicity department of Shaanxi provincial CPC committee, during a meeting in Xi'an on Friday.

"All the organization has gone smoothly. We have established 53 subsidiary organizing committees, and we are planning to finish 53 test events by the end of July. Also we are working on preparing the opening and closing ceremonies. We have finished the framework of the show, so the next step is to select the performers."

Athletics events were tested in late April at the 60,000-capacity Xi'an Olympic Sports Center, where the National Games' opening ceremony will also be staged.

The two-day process saw a total of 239 athletes-including 60 national team members-compete across 25 track and 23 field events, with the participants hugely impressed by the scale and quality of facilities and services at their disposal.

Men's shot put winner Tian Zizhong told media that the stadium was the perfect venue for athletes to excel in.

"My great performance must be a result of this brand new stadium. The facilities and organization are all great," Tian said. "Although there were no spectators cheering for us in the stands, the event organizer kept the music on and created a great atmosphere. All the athletes were really excited and we could adjust to our peak condition in a very short time."

Another shot putter, Feng Jie, who missed out on the podium, said of his performance: "I can't blame the stadium which is in superb condition. The main reason for my lackluster result is that I have been practicing new techniques in recent months, and today showed I haven't quite perfected them yet."

The vice-president of the Chinese Athletics Association, Yu Hongchen, added his voice to the praise, singling out the coronavirus protocols for special mention.

"The atmosphere of the test event was great. The stadium, facilities and services meet the first-class standard, especially the COVID-19 epidemic prevention work, which is outstanding. The organizers have done a great job, and everyone shouldered their responsibility," said Yu.

"The national team athletes are preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, so I believe the test event in Xi'an is an important experience for them. In September, all athletes who come to Shaanxi province will present the best of themselves at the National Games."

The triathlon test event on May 8 in Hanzhong saw over 1,000 organizational personnel, including medical staff, police and volunteers, positioned along the course to ensure everything ran smoothly for the 40 or so competitors.

On the same day, martial arts test events took place at the newly built 5,000-seat Ankang Sports Center, and on May 3, baseball games, featuring 80 players with 81 volunteers, were staged at Xi'an Physical Education University.

Organizers are also using the Games to promote the national fitness campaign, with running enthusiasts spoiled for choice in the province as a result.

Since October 2020 until last month, 14 National Games-themed marathons were staged in Weinan, with the resulting influx of visitors boosting the local economy to the tune of 1.2 billion yuan ($186 million).Weinan has also been hosting National Games-themed grassroots basketball, chess and fitness activities.

As with all mass sports events in China these days, athletes can be assured that comprehensive COVID-19 prevention protocols will be in place at the Games to ensure everyone's safety.

"We will take the opportunity of the National Games to facilitate the development of facilities, sports associations, fitness activities, grassroots sports competition, sports culture, smart sports and the improved use of stadiums to meet the fitness demands of the public," said Shaanxi official Cheng.

"And we have more work to do in terms of epidemic prevention, accommodation, logistics, medical support and volunteer training to guarantee the quality of the National Games."

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