Beijing, IOC pledge 'safe and secure' Winter Games

2021-02-04 12:06:41

[Photo/Xinhua] Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics organizers have reassured National Olympic Committees worldwide that the Games will take place on schedule and in a secure and smooth fashion. The Chinese organizers expressed their confidence in the safety and feasibility of the 2022 Winter Games amid the COVID-19 pandemic during an online meeting with the International Olympic Committee and representatives of 84 NOCs this week. Officially known as the chef de mission webinar, the meeting preceded a celebration on Thursday to mark the start of the one-year countdown to the Games, which will open on Feb 4 next year. IOC president Thomas Bach reiterated his confidence in Beijing 2022's preparations, despite challenges presented by the pandemic. "Having seen how China is overcoming the coronavirus crisis, we are very confident that our Chinese hosts will ensure safe and secure Games with full cooperation with the IOC and with your NOCs one year from now," Bach said in a video speech during the opening session of the webinar on Monday. "Building on the strong partnership with our Chinese friends, and also thanks to the great support of all of the NOCs, we have been able to proactively address the organizational challenges we are still facing because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. "This makes us even more confident for the Olympic Games, because China is taking the right measures at the right time to get the virus under control." Beijing 2022 has established an epidemic prevention and control expert group, which has been meeting on a weekly basis to discuss the ever-evolving pandemic situation with the IOC and relevant international federations. Key elements of the discussion also include tracking anti-coronavirus protocols developed for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and their implications for the Beijing 2022 winter edition. Beijing 2022 will work closely with all stakeholders to develop a set of policies for epidemic prevention and control, said Cai Qi, Beijing's Party chief and president of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, in his opening remarks at the meeting. He added that operational work will proceed on an athlete-focused basis to ensure all competitors enjoy the best possible conditions and services during the Games. During the webinar, Beijing 2022 organizers also shared information with NOC representatives about the provisional arrangement of the adapted sports testing program, which was introduced by the IOC in November to replace test events involving large numbers of international entries, which is currently unfeasible due to the pandemic. A limited number of events involving overseas athletes are expected to be held in the second half of this year at 2022 venues, according to a tentative plan. Beijing 2022 organizers also briefed NOCs on the status and layout of all the Games' 12 competition venues, which have been completed, the progress on the athletes' villages and the catering services at the villages and venues. To ensure the integrity of the qualification process amid the crisis, the IOC Executive Board has mandated a newly established Beijing 2022 qualification task force-comprised of EB members, NOC and IF representatives and athletes-to make quick decisions on changes necessitated by the pandemic, according to IOC official Irina Gladkikh. "Additionally, let me reassure you that we are working at full speed to ensure the fairness of the qualification system in consultation with the IFs and NOCs to guarantee that the athletes have the best possible experience," said Bach. "It will take flexibility, creativity, and, yes, also sacrifices from all of us to overcome these challenges and evolving circumstances. "Your dedication and commitment are essential factors to ensure the success of these Olympic Winter Games, and most importantly, making the Olympic dreams of your athletes come true."