Goodbye, Pyeongchang! Hello, Beijing!
At the end of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games’ closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, the Republic of Korea, on Feb 25, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, handed the Olympic flag to Chen Jining, mayor of Beijing, marking the start of a new Winter Olympic cycle.
Beijing and Zhangjiakou, in North China’s Hebei province, will co-host the 2022 Winter Games, for which both cities have already started preparations.
One of the biggest advantages of Beijing is that it has a number of stadiums that played host to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.
The 2022 Winter Olympics will make optimum use of taxpayers’ money, with the host cities and venues serving the spectators and athletes equally well.
Moreover, the 2022 Winter Games have the potential to become a new economic growth point for the whole of northern China, as it will make people more enthusiastic about playing and watching winter sports. Data show that on average every winter sports event increases the number of fans by 5 percent.
Reports on the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics were read 1.41 billion times on domestic social media and micro blogs, indicating Chinese people’s interest in winter sports. After Wu Dajing, a member of China’s short-track speed-skating team, won the gold in the men’s 500-meter event in Pyeongchang, he became a celebrity overnight, with many children posting comments on his micro blog that Wu’s success inspired them to learn ice skating.
Experts estimate the number of China’s winter sports fans will rise by 20 percent a year in the years leading up to the 2022 Winter Games. The number is expected to reach 340 million in 2022.
Ice and snow tourism will benefit, too. According to China Ice Tourism Consumption Big Data Report, co-issued by the China Tourism Academy and travel agency tuniu.com on Jan 3, China had 170 million winter tourists from 2016 to 2017, and the ice and snow tourism market income is about 270 billion yuan ($42.8 billion).
Several winter sports stadiums and artificial ice resorts in China’s eastern and southwestern provinces, such as Zhejiang and Sichuan, rose to the top 10 domestic list. That means China’s ice and snow tourism and winter sports have crossed natural boundaries and reached provinces that receive relatively less snowfall.
In other words, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be a major step forward in China’s winter sports, and ice and snow tourism sectors. However, to develop the winter sports industry in Beijing, some factors need to be taken into consideration, such as the fact that Beijing and the rest of northern China have been relatively dry this winter.
The preparatory committee for the 2022 Winter Olympics said it has already evaluated the use of water and energy as well as the environmental impact of the sports gala, which it said is a positive development and sets a good example for others to follow.
The author is a writer at China Daily. Contact the writer at zhangzhouxiang@chinadaily.