Post-Olympic projects poised for takeoff

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-03-24 07:38
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Barrier-free stands are installed at the National Aquatics Centre, also known as the Water Cube, which was transformed into the Ice Cube for curling and wheelchair curling events at Beijing 2022. ZHANG BOWEN/XINHUA

Thrills on way

Post-Games operation and development plans have been drawn up for all 12 competition venues since the design phase.

The majority of these cutting-edge venues will see elite winter sports action return to Beijing and fellow Games host Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, with a series of international events planned for as early as the end of this year.

As part of a memorandum of understanding signed by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, or IBSF, and representatives of China's winter sports governing body, the municipal government and venue owners, the National Sliding Centre in northwest Beijing's Yanqing district will host a series of World Cup races and international training events in the next five years.

The centre hosted bobsleigh, skeleton and luge events at Beijing 2022.The lower and flatter section of its 1.9-kilometer track will open to the public for recreational purposes by the end of next month, according to the venue owner, Beijing Enterprise Group Co. To attract outdoor enthusiasts, the track experience will complement other activities such as sightseeing, hiking and mountain biking.

Coupled with tourism attractions, the continuation of top-level sports events at the track, the first of its kind in China, will boost economic development in the area, according to officials.

Ivo Ferriani, IBSF president, said after signing the memorandum of understanding with Chinese partners last month, "During the past six years, we have worked very closely with the various stakeholders to prepare not just for Beijing 2022 but also for post-Games use.

"Our shared vision was to leave a strong legacy for this outstanding facility, which will serve elite-level sports and also tourism."

According to the district government, the centre's operators will use exposure from the Olympics and the venue's proximity to the Great Wall to turn Yanqing into an all-year tourist destination to help create more jobs for the local community.

Reversible project

As one of three 2008 Summer Olympics venues reused for competitions during the Winter Games, the National Aquatics Centre, also known as the Water Cube, was transformed into the Ice Cube for curling and wheelchair curling events at Beijing 2022. Fourteen years ago, it hosted the Summer Games swimming and diving.

The reversible transformation project, which involved filling the swimming pool with steel structures and making an ice surface above, turned the arena into a multifunctional venue capable of switching from aquatic to ice sports.

Yang Qiyong, general manager of the aquatics center, said that after hosting the world's top curlers with exceptional conditions, the competition area at the Ice Cube will open for public visits and curling next month.

The Olympic-standard ice sheets and visual elements of Beijing 2022 will be retained as the public experiences the venue before it reverts to a swimming pool before summer, Yang said.

"An authentic Olympic experience will be on offer for the public," Yang added. "We'd like to expose people to the Games experience in an immersive way and for them to learn more about curling."

The World Curling Federation, or WCF, the Chinese Curling Association and Beijing State-owned Assets Management Co-the venue owner-will introduce more international events to the center and develop a World Curling Academy Training Center at the underground training rink, according to a three-party agreement signed during the Winter Olympics.

Kate Caithness, president of the WCF, said programs to train more technical officials and coaches, with input from the federation, will also be launched at the aquatics center as part of its legacy plans.

During the Winter Olympics, Caithness said: "China has the potential to be one of the biggest curling nations in the world. The coaches and officials who will be trained at this center will help build and promote the foundations for that growth.

"We would like to return to the center very soon with our flagship events, because it is the best venue we have ever had for curling and we obviously want to give other athletes the opportunity to compete at this iconic location."

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