Govt eyes 'safe, smooth' Games

2021-03-09 12:07:09

The National Sliding Center will host bobsled, luge and skeleton at the Beijing 2022 Games, with the venue a key part of organizers' post-Games legacy plans. [Photo/Xinhua] Two sessions debate stresses importance of delivering simplified, sustainable Olympics With Beijing going all out in its final preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics, legislators and policy advisors from China's sports community have called for meticulous efforts to ensure smooth delivery and a lasting legacy for the Games. Organizational progress on infrastructure, COVID-19 protocols and post-Games legacies for the winter sports extravaganza sparked plenty of debate during the annual sessions of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the highest political advisory body. Even with the pandemic still casting a shadow over the global sports scene, the Chinese government's commitment to guaranteeing the feasibility of the Games in a safe and simplified manner remains strong, according to Zhang Jiandong, a vice-mayor of Beijing and a deputy to the 13th NPC. "We will fully implement the central government's guideline of hosting the Games with a simplified, safe and excellent approach," Zhang, also executive vice-president of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, told Xinhua on Saturday. "Despite tough challenges posed by the pandemic, we will work with all parties involved to ensure the smooth delivery of the Games on schedule." The 2022 Winter Olympic Games will open in Beijing on Feb 4 next year with the city's downtown area hosting all ice sports and its northwest Yanqing district and co-host city Zhangjiakou, Hebei province staging snow events. With all 12 competition venues completed by the end of last year, organizers are proceeding with final preparations on non-competition facilities, venue tests and Games services, while developing coronavirus prevention measures to ensure that Beijing will be ready in time to impress the world again when the Olympic flame burns for a second time in the Chinese capital, according to Zhang. Zhang's confidence was highlighted in the annual Government Work Report, delivered by Premier Li Keqiang at the fourth session of the 13th NPC on Friday. Citing the importance of promoting greater sports participation and healthy living, Li urged organizers and relevant departments to make "meticulous preparations" for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games one of the government's priorities this year. "With less than a year to go before the opening of the Games, our tasks are arduous," said Zhang, noting challenges posed by the pandemic and China's lack of experience in staging world-class winter sports in complex weather conditions. A series of successful domestic test events last month shed light on improvements that Beijing 2022 organizers could make to enhance athletes' experience at the Games. Featuring only domestic competitors due to the ongoing pandemic, 20 events spanning Olympic and Paralympic skiing, snowboarding and sliding disciplines took place from Feb 16-26 at six venues in Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, putting competition courses, meteorological monitoring, event rescheduling and epidemic control protocols to the test. The rehearsal was part of an "adapted sports testing program" implemented last November by Beijing 2022, the International Olympic Committee and relevant winter sports federations after they were forced to modify original test plans in response to the pandemic. "We achieved the goals set for the tests," said Zhang. "We are now reviewing all the test results and will optimize our preparation accordingly and effectively to improve the level of operation during the Games."