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Five years on: Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics preparations full speed ahead

(Xinhua)    15:19, July 31, 2020

On this day in 2015 IOC President Thomas Bach, at the 128th IOC session in Kuala Lumpur, opened an envelope with the results of a secret ballot held to determine whether it would be Beijing or Almaty (Kazakhstan) who would have the honor of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The Chinese delegation, with a towering Yao Ming among them, erupted as the German held up the card emblazoned with Beijing's name; and history was made. In 2022, Beijing will become the first city ever to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

And now, five years to the day since that joyous moment, we can unequivocally see the fruits of the intense labor that has gone into the preparations for the games. But these fruits aren't the usual variety we'd expect to see from a city preparing to host one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. These Games are expected to be the most environmentally friendly and sustainable Games in Olympic history.

Earlier this year the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee released the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Sustainability Plan which sought to "create a new example for staging events and regional sustainability."

The Plan is based around the three core principles of "positive environmental impact, new development for the region and a better life for the people." The fingerprints of these principles can be seen all over the preparations for the Games, from the construction of the venues all the way down to the impact they have had on people local to the areas around the venues.

A perfect example of these principles in action is the conversion of the Shougang Steel Industrial Park into both the Beijing 2022 headquarters and the venue that will host the Big Air jumping event. This incredible transformation drew high praise from Bach in an interview with Xinhua when he said: "You will see, for instance, the transformation of Shougang, from a steel mill to a neighborhood from which many Chinese people can benefit, for leisure, for information, for sport, for housing - you name it."

As the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics, Beijing has used this unique situation to their advantage and a further push towards sustainability. This is best illustrated by the repurposing of the famous Water Cube, the venue for swimming events in 2008, into the Ice Cube which will host the curling competition in 2022.

The commitment to delivering a sustainable Games can be seen even on a micro-level. Beijing has introduced carbon dioxide refrigerants, the least toxic and most environmentally friendly natural refrigerant, in an effort to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the government has established a cross-regional electricity trading mechanism in order to run the Games' venues on 100 percent renewable energy.

On a social level, the Games have brought about localized development around the competition zones with communities engaging in new employment structures that have immensely improved their standards of living. Participation in national fitness and winter sports activities continues on an upward trend, in line with Beijing 2022's vision of engaging 300 million people in winter sports in China.

Prior to the awarding for the Olympics to Beijing, the Chongli District of Zhangjiakou city was heavily affected by poverty and unemployment. As of May 2019, the district had officially been lifted out of poverty with more than 30,000 jobs created by the development of the area for both the Games and far beyond. The development of Zhangjiakou into a world-class city for winter sports has led to projections that the industry in the city could grow to 30 billion yuan (about 4.29 billion U.S. dollars) by 2022.

Besides the intense focus on delivering the 'greenest' Olympics in history, China is also committed to once again delivering a Games that will represent their values and culture in a positive manner to the world. The venues, mascot and logos of Beijing 2022 all convey this message and are the ultimate advertisement for the nation that used the same platform so brilliantly in 2008.

The masterfully designed logo has several multi-layered meanings. It is modeled after the Chinese character for winter and features a blue ribbon that represents the mountains of China as well as flowing forms that mimic the motion of skiers and the beauty of skaters. At the logo unveiling ceremony, Bach lauded the logo in saying, "it stands for the vision of Beijing 2022, showcasing the best of China to the world, a unique blend of modern and ancient traditions."

The mascots for the Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games respectively, are the adorable Bing Dwen Dwen, and helmet-wearing panda, and Shuey Rhon Rhon, a personified traditional Chinese lantern. Both perfectly capture the spirit of the Olympics while showcasing Chinese culture on the biggest stage.

Now, with just 552 days until the opening ceremony on February 4, 2022, Beijing 2022 is well on its way to delivering a Winter Olympic that is sure to leave an enormous mark on the world of sports while changing the way future Games are hosted.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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