Beijing 2022 to be real Games changer

2018-06-07 09:06:07China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The International Olympic Committee believes the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be cost-effective, largely because of the flexibility provided by existing venues and reforms.

As the first host city affected by the Olympic Agenda 2020 reform throughout its full course of preparation, Beijing is expected to set a new benchmark for future Games in terms of frugality and sustainability, taking advantage of the 2008 Summer Games legacy.

"It is very encouraging to see how Beijing 2022 is already tapping into its potential to maximize the use of existing venues and is embracing Agenda 2020," IOC president Thomas Bach said during the Pyeongchang 2018 debrief at western Beijing's Shougang Industrial Park on Tuesday.

"This makes us confident that an excellent Olympic Winter Games will be held in four years."

In 2014, the IOC unveiled Agenda 2020 - 40 reform proposals aimed at cutting costs for future hosts and making the Games more sustainable and feasible.

Beijing and co-host city Zhangjiakou, in Hebei province, filed a bid for hosting the 2022 Winter Games after the reform was introduced.

The IOC reinforced its reform by launching the New Norm, 118 further measures, during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February to offer more flexibility for future hosts to meet regional development needs.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, son of the late IOC president of the same name and chairman of the IOC's 2022 coordination commission, said Beijing's foresight in harnessing the 2008 legacy echoes the IOC reform.

"Even before we were ready to talk to the organizing committee, Beijing embraced the ideas in the New Norm and Agenda 2020," Samaranch told China Daily. "Not because we put pressure or we insisted, but because it makes a lot of sense."

Beijing 2022 will use 26 competition and non-competition venues in three zones: Beijing downtown, northwestern Yanqing district and co-host Zhangjiakou, connected by a new high-speed railway to be completed by the end of 2019.

In the downtown zone, where all the ice sports will be held, 11 of 13 venues are from the 2008 Summer Olympics, such as Wukesong Arena for hockey and the Water Cube for curling.

The reuse of ready-made facilities coupled with the IOC's support to optimize savings in venue operation, broadcasting and transport is expected to significantly cut the cost for Beijing, said Christophe Dubi, the IOC's executive director for Olympic Games.

"There is absolutely no doubt about Beijing 2022 being cost-effective," he said.

"We are still operating on the same budget as we had during the candidature."

According to Beijing's candidature file submitted to the IOC in 2015, the combined infrastructure and operational budgets for the 2022 Games total about $3.5 billion - significantly less than the cost of staging a Summer Olympics.

"We have measures that will make it simpler to deliver for the organizing committee, so once more the bottom line from the financial standpoint will no doubt be a positive one," said Dubi.

Still, the challenges that Pyeongchang is facing to operate some of its new venues such as the Jeongseon Alpine Skiing center after the 2018 Games is giving Beijing a lesson, said Gunllia Lindberg, chairperson of the IOC coordination commission for Pyeongchang 2018.

"The advice for Beijing is that it should be decided early to promote winter sports, especially snow events, among the Chinese," she said.

From last November to March, Beijing 2022 sent 254 of its staff to observe and work side-by-side with their South Korean counterparts in the build-up to and during the Pyeongchang Olympics and Paralympics in key areas such as venue operation, event management, and Games-related services.

According to Chen Jining, mayor of Beijing, a series of mass winter sports promotions, carnival activities and grassroots competitions in the capital last winter involved 4.5 million participants.


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