Harbin goes all out to win Universiade bid
Harbin, the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province is sparing no efforts to win the right to host the 2009 Winter Universiade.
Officials of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) expressed their satisfaction at Harbin's preparatory work on Friday at the end of their three-day inspection of the city.
Led by George Killian, president of the FISU, an evaluation group consisting of eight members started their visit to Harbin on Tuesday.
Harbin is competing with another candidate city -- Erzurum in Turkey.
Located in the northernmost part of China, Heilongjiang Province has a long history in developing its winter sports and ice-snow tourism.
With more than 70 per cent of China's ski slopes, the province has best natural condition to develop winter sports.
And the entire province is backing Harbin's bid for the Universiade.
"As the provincial capital, Harbin has unique advantages in terms of its economic strength, transportation, sports facilities and security, " said Cheng Youdong, director of the Harbin 2009 Winter Universiade Bid Committee.
Harbin is also one of the cities that enjoy the best ice and snow resources in the country. The city now has four stadiums and five training centres, which can meet the FISU's requirements.
Yang Yang, China's first Winter Olympic gold medalist, and Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, the figure skating pair who brought fame to the country were just three of the winter sport champions who have trained here.
The municipal government is also planning to totally renovate the Yabuli ski slope, which is the largest one of its kind in China and where some of the skiing events will be held.
Winter sports are very popular with Harbin residents, especially students. Statistics show that more than 2,000 schools and colleges in the province have winter sports classes and an average of 1.15 million students take part in various winter activities every year. Skating, skiing and winter swimming are common sights in Harbin during the winter.
Harbin has hosted many international winter sports competitions, such as the third Asian Winter Games in 1996 and the World Cup Short Track Speed Skating Competition in January this year.
The city also joined the bid for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games but failed to reach the last round.
"The bid for the Winter Universiade has rekindled local residents' passion for winter sports. We now have their almost total support," said Cheng.
Beijing once hosted the Summer Universiade in 2001. Both held biennially, the Winter Universiade has yet to be held in China. The result of the bid will be announced next January by the FISU.