A 2022 Winter Olympics 1,000?-day countdown activity unfolds in Beijing Olympic Park on Friday. FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY
With 1,000 days to go before the 2022 Winter Olympics, preparations are well underway for a successful and sustainable event.
Built for the 2008 Summer Games, Olympic Park in Beijing's northern downtown area entered the spotlight again on Friday as the country began its countdown. The 2022 Winter Olympics, will be held in Beijing and co-host Zhangjiakou in adjacent Hebei province.
As the symbolic "1,000" flashed on a digital clock on the park's Linglong Tower, a broadcasting facility for the 2008 Games, expectations were heightened for the winter sports extravaganza, which will run from Feb 4 to 20 in 2022. Three zones will feature athletic events — downtown Beijing, the city's northwest Yanqing district and Zhangjiakou's mountain district Chongli.
"With the 1,000-day countdown celebration comes a new stage of preparation for the Games," said Chen Jining, mayor of Beijing and executive president of the 2022 Winter Olympics Organizing Committee. "We will endeavor to deliver a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games."
The 1,000-day countdown — launched near the iconic Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, both 2008 venues — underlined Beijing's focus on sustainability in preparing a second time for an Olympic extravaganza by reusing existing resources built for the Summer Games.
According to the 2022 Winter Olympics organizing committee, 11 of the 13 venues needed in Beijing's downtown, where all ice sports will be staged, will use existing facilities built for 2008. Repurposing projects, such as transforming the Water Cube (which hosted swimming in 2008) into a curling arena by filling the pool with steel structures and making ice on the surface, are well underway.
Yanqing and Zhangjiakou are preparing another 10 venues, including existing ski resorts and some newly built projects, to host all eight Olympic snow sports in 2022. The three clusters will be connected by a new high-speed railway, which will be completed by the end of this year. It looks beyond the Games to boost future winter sports tourism.
According to the organizing committee, all 26 venues for 2022 will be ready by June next year with the first test event, a World Cup skiing series, scheduled to be held in Yanqing's National Alpine Skiing Center in February.
About 90 percent of the earth moving work for the mountain center is now complete, and a 53-hectare forest reserve has been built nearby for transplantation of all the trees affected by the construction.
"The preparations are ready to step up to the next stage, from planning to the readiness phase. Beijing is ahead in the race against time," said Liu Yumin, director of the planning, construction and sustainable development department of the 2022 Olympic Organizing Committee.
The legacy plan for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games was unveiled in February. Plans aim to optimize the venues' designs and operations to be beneficial to the hosting regions after 2022.
"Here, you have the venues from 2008 that are going to be used in 2022 for a complete set of winter sports. This is a wonderful legacy story," said Juan Antonio Samaranch, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.
Powering all the 2022 venues using green energy while minimizing environmental impacts, while planning for their post-Games operations, are key in venue preparation this year, Liu said.
To support the preparations financially, Beijing 2022 has signed nine domestic marketing partners and four second-tier sponsors, while the Games' licensing program, which was launched early last year, has contributed 257 million yuan ($38 million) in sales of more than 780 types of products with the Winter Games logo as of the first quarter this year.
The Organizing Committee on Friday also unveiled its plans for volunteer recruitment and training. International recruitment, which will be launched in December through an online system, aims to select 27,000 volunteers to directly serve the Games' operation, while another 80,000 or so will work as city volunteers.
The Games' official mascot will be unveiled in the second half of this year.