The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission visited Zhangjiakou on Thursday.
Zhangjiakou is a popular skiing destination for over a decade that attracts 1.5 million people annually. With Zhangjiakou zone events set to be staged at the foot of the iconic Great Wall of China, Beijing 2022 has underlined how this stunning backdrop can best showcase Olympic and Paralympic sports to millions of fans in China and across the world.
The 'Zhangjiakou Zone' of Games venues will be just 50 minutes away from Beijing city by modern high-speed bullet train connection, while travel time from the Olympic Village to any Olympic venue will be within just five to 15 minutes to provide maximum convenience for athletes. It would host the snowboarding, freestyle skiing, cross-country, ski jumping, Nordic combined and biathlon events at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
With five established ski resorts successfully operating in the area and enjoying a growing number of winter sports visitors every year, Zhangjiakou is one of the key destinations which will help deliver China's ambition to rapidly expand the winter sports industry across the country and wider region. The desire to grow of the winter sport market is underpinned by an established plan by Chinese President Xi Jinping, to attract an additional 300 million people in the country to participate in winter sports.
In a strong effort to support Olympic Agenda 2020, the planned use of existing facilities in Zhangjiakou for Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games provides significant ability to manage costs economically and limit the impact of environmental aspects. Existing international standard hotels, trails, cable-cars and reservoirs will be utilized without additional build required.
Having so many people of all ages participating in winter sports represents an unprecedented historical opportunity for the sustainability of the Olympic Movement.
While Beijing 2022 will bring the Olympic Winter Games directly to local residents, Beijing 2022 will also connect these people directly with the Olympic Movement. China is dedicated to establishing a fully all-year-round sports culture and develop China's huge winter sports market potential by encouraging public participation in winter sports. In this way, Beijing 2022 will also help promote healthy lifestyle across China. Beijing 2022 will directly contribute to creating approximately 600,000 additional jobs within the plan to develop sport, culture and tourism in the region, as well as providing a significant boost to the development of China's winter sports industry.
In recent years, many ski courses in the area have been approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS) with a large number of national and international ski competitions hosted, including the FIS RACE and the FIS Far East Cup ski events. Zhangjiakou is also the training and competition base of the Chinese National Ski Team, and it is experiencing increasing popularity – both for professional and leisure skiers from surrounding countries and regions.
All Beijing 2022 snow venues will remain a legacy for the Olympic Movement worldwide and will continue to serve as both domestic and international competition and training venues, while the on-going development of leisure skiers' tourism in the area is also expected to be significantly boosted by the Games.
Beijing 2022 Games will also provide an outstanding opportunity to further promote Paralympic winter sports and to give 85 million people living with impairment in China the chance to take part in sports all-year-round.
Speaking at a media briefing this afternoon, Hou Bin, Paralympic high jump champion and Beijing 2022 Ambassador, said: "Sport and Paralympic Games completely changed my life and I couldn't imagine to be who I am today if I didn't have this opportunity. I witnessed life of people with disabilities in my country change to the better as a result of the Beijing 2008 Summer Games and I am convinced that hosting Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games with more opportunities to live their lives to the fullest and enjoy sports and an accessible environment all-year-round."
The IOC Evaluation Commission members were provided with a full day of visits to proposed venues and sites in Zhangjiakou, including the popular and established Genting Secret Garden Ski Resort, which will host snowboarding and freestyle skiing. It will also host the Mountain Media Centre, which is planned as a temporary facility to be dismantled after the Games, and will include the Olympic Village, which will become a residential area once the Games are over.
The delegation visited the sites proposed for the Nordic and the Biathlon Centres, a truly unique location at the foot of the Great Wall which will provide a stunning backdrop for the Games spectators and millions of fans worldwide watching the broadcast of the Games.
Upon their return to Beijing in the evening, members of the IOC Evaluation Commission had an opportunity to visit the National Convention Centre, which successfully hosted the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in 2008 and fully complies with space, technical and location requirements to serve as the Main Media Centre during the 2022 Games.
Smooth and efficient media operations were one of the strong successes of the 2008 Games. Beijing 2022 will build on this experience to ensure broad coverage of the Games which will reach even more winter sports fans all over the world.