As the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games approach its 500-day countdown, Olympic family members spoke highly of the Beijing 2022 preparations despite the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
"The IOC continues to be impressed by the progress of the preparations, and we are all looking forward to writing this new chapter in China's great sporting history," IOC President Thomas Bach said at the opening ceremony of the World Winter Sports Expo (WWSE) 2020 via a video link.
The WWSE is a sporting event supported and participated in by the IOC and the seven International Olympic Winter Sports Federations, providing a platform for the world's ice and snow industry.
Due to the pandemic, the five-day 2020 WWSE, which opened in Beijing on Saturday, is held both online and offline, with more than 500 brands from China and overseas showcasing their products and services.
Bach admitted that because of the unprecedented global pandemic, "we are all living with much uncertainty. We are still learning everyday about the impact of this global crisis on all aspects of our lives."
On the other hand, the IOC chief said he believed that hosting the Expo sent a strong signal of confidence through the sporting world.
"The World Winter Sports Expo is the perfect platform to highlight this important contribution of sport to the recovery. The Expo is also an important step as China gets ready to welcome the world's best winter sport athletes in 2022," he noted.
Discussing Beijing 2022's legacy and sustainability plans, IOC Coordination Commission Chair Juan Antonio Samaranch said, "This is a great opportunity and a great occasion to amplify their really successful legacy from Beijing 2008 Summer Games. Beijing and China did very well in that occasion."
"Now in winter 2022, future generations of Chinese and worldwide winter sports lovers will benefit from this and will experience the success and the access to winter sports like never before."
All the Games' competition venues and related infrastructure will be completed by the end of this year.
"Despite the difficulties over the last months, we are happy to recognize the big advance of the Beijing 2022 project. The team has been extremely proficient and capable of delivering the progress in the organization of the Games," Samaranch noted.
Samaranch praised both the physical and intangible legacy of Beijing 2022, namely post-Games utilization and raising awareness of winter sports.
"It is one of the best ever in the history of Olympic Movement, and will be very difficult to match in the future."
As for sustainability, Samaranch highlighted the use of natural carbon dioxide instead of ozone layer-harming Freon as a refrigerant in ice-making in the venues, which will reduce carbon emissions, and preservation and recuperation measures of water used in artificial snowmaking.
"Something after the Games should be envisaged, not within seven years of difficult preparation and 17 days of delivery, but how this spirit of seven plus seventeen can contribute then to another 20 years in the community. You are right on time to deliver that," IOC's Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi noted.
"The Games represent a formidable asset to accelerate some long term developments. This is what has been done for Beijing 2022, and we've learned a lot," he added.
For Sarah Lewis, Secretary General of the International Ski Federation (FIS), the Games provide a historic opportunity to develop winter sports in China as the country endeavors to engage 300 million people in winter sports.
"Such an outcome would create a really extensive winter sports industry in China and develop a base for many top athletes and for competitions to take place," Lewis declared.