A design picture of the National Speed Skating Oval for long-track speed skating in Beijing. (Provided to China Daily)
Organizers say the event must leave a legacy for future generations.
As the Olympic spotlight shifts to Beijing following the Games in Pyeongchang, the Chinese capital has beefed up efforts to produce a sustainable Winter Olympics in 2022, with its legacy underlined as a key requirement for post-Games success.
Since the curtain fell on the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the Republic of Korea last month, Beijing has taken center stage to prepare for its own version of the sporting gala against the backdrop of a national plan to build a burgeoning winter sports industry leading up to 2022 and beyond.
The country's commitment to hosting an excellent Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and using the showcase event as a boost for sporting participation, was highlighted in the annual Government Work Report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang at the opening session of the 13th National People's Congress on March 5. [Special coverage]
"China will make thorough preparations for the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and multiple channels will be used to raise the number of sporting venues and facilities available to the general public," Li said, when he presented the report.
Highlighted as a milestone in the country's sporting and social development by the central government, the 2022 Winter Games will be held at three zones－downtown Beijing, Yanqing district, in the northwest of the capital, and co-host city Zhangjiakou, Hebei province. The zones are expected to lead sustainable planning and operations, not just for sporting events but for urban development in general, according to deputies and political advisers attending the two sessions.
After heated discussions during the National Committee session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, members of the sports panel of the top political advisory body agreed that preevent planning for infrastructure construction, venue management and staff training for the Games should take account of local demand and the environment.
"Even with four years to go until the 2022 Games, we have already started to take into consideration what will happen next after the Games," said Li Yingchuan, a CPPCC member and vice-minister of the General Administration of Sport of China, the country's central sporting governing body.
"Since winning the bid for the event, we have instilled the mindset of always considering what will be next and will carry that through the entire preparatory and delivery stages of the Games."
Yang Yang, a retired Olympic champion speed skater and a member of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, echoed Li Yingchuan's points, saying that the sustainability featured in the plan for Beijing 2022 is its biggest selling point.
"The International Olympic Committee has put great emphasis on adapting future Games in the hosts' regional development plans," said Yang, whose eight-year term as a member of the International Olympic Committee ended last month.
"It is important for us to leave a legacy through practical planning and prudent operation so we can set examples for reform of the IOC."
Carrying the Olympic flag from Pyeongchang, Beijing wasted no time meshing the gears for 2022, as the organizers announced that construction of all venues and infrastructure is well underway.
"All construction will be completed by the end of next year and will be ready for a series of test events in 2020," said Zhang Jiandong, vicemayor of Beijing and executive vice-president of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee.
Zhang, who is also an NPC deputy, added that the capital will launch a global competition for the design of the 2022 mascots soon.