The Commission, which was joined by International Federations and World Para Sport representatives, met with the leadership of the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee via video-conference for an update on the work accomplished since the previous Commission meeting last July.
Acknowledging the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in China in recent months, members of the Commission offered their sympathy for those affected. Speaking after the meeting, IOC Coordination Commission Chair Juan Antonio Samaranch said: “China has faced an incredibly difficult period over the past few months – our thoughts are with all those impacted. We are glad to see a significant improvement in the situation in China, allowing the Organising Committee to return to almost normal working conditions. Despite these unique circumstances, Beijing 2022 has continued to meet key milestones, a true testament to its determination to provide the perfect stage for the world’s top winter athletes in just under two years’ time.
“Not only have we seen important progress with its venues, its efforts to engage millions of people in winter sports is heartening. This aligns very much with the spirit of Olympism and the thoughts of IOC President Thomas Bach in relation to ‘sport and physical activity make a great contribution to health’ in society. We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the Beijing 2022 team during what will be a crucial period of preparations over the coming months.”
Beijing 2022 Executive Vice President Zhang Jiandong said: “After the outbreak of COVID-19 and following the recommendations and requirements of the Chinese government, Beijing 2022 not only prioritised the prevention and control of the pandemic, but also focused on Games preparations to ensure venue construction could resume at the earliest opportunity. Beijing 2022 has also taken steps to improve its management, general planning and coordination for the delivery of the Games. By innovating its working style, Beijing 2022 hosted a series of events via video conference, including the World Broadcaster Meeting, Partners Workshop and a National (Regional) Olympic Committee Open Day.”
During the meeting, Beijing 2022 confirmed that it is now in the readiness phase. To combat the challenges posed by the global pandemic, it will further solidify communication and cooperation with the IOC, International Paralympic Committee and Olympic Movement stakeholders. The Beijing team also emphasised their plans to continually and carefully monitor and review the global context, adapt strategies accordingly, strengthen overall coordination and respond to risks and challenges as they spare no efforts in preparations for hosting the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
The status of venues was one of several talking points during the meeting. Commission members were pleased to hear of developments being made on the Olympic and Paralympic Villages as it was confirmed that a section of the Yanqing Village is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
They also welcomed the first completed indoor training venue in the Beijing competition zone, the “Ice Jar”, on 27 May. This facility incorporates two international standard ice rinks, one for short track speed skating, which will be used as a training venue during the Games, and another for curling. It will provide a major contribution to the city’s development of winter sports, from grassroots to elite level. The facility is also a good example of Beijing 2022’s Sustainability Plan, published last month, in action. Both ice rinks will use refrigeration systems that reduce carbon emissions significantly, in comparison to traditional refrigeration methods, as well as improving ice-making efficiency.
Progress reports were given on the National Sliding Centre and the National Alpine Skiing Centre, both of which will be completed this year. In addition to holding events during the Games, both will host national and international sports competitions in the future. They will also play a duel role in the development of winter sports. These facilities will not only be open for use by the general public, but are also expected to be confirmed as Chinese national team training bases.
The National Sliding Centre is already preparing to welcome primary and secondary school students as part of their sports initiations programme, both before and after the Olympic Games in 2022; whilst the National Alpine Skiing Centre will also include summer sporting activities such as rock climbing and mountain biking, ensuring it evolves into a four-season sports resort.
These facilities will be amongst many that will help Beijing 2022 achieve its ambition of getting 300 million people involved in winter sports. As part of this programme and to combat the restrictions on sports venues forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Skate to 2022” Online and Winter Sports Mini Education classes have been conducted through Chinese websites and broadcasters, with more than 12 million and 1.7 million people participating respectively.
While the topic of legacy focused on the future, all stakeholders acknowledged the current context in which the world finds itself, the impact COVID-19 is having across the sports industry, and the challenges facing Beijing 2022 in its preparations for the Games.
It was noted that the ability of international experts, officials and athletes to be able to travel to China will need to be closely monitored, and mitigation measures put in place should restrictions prove disruptive. This is especially relevant in areas like the testing and homologation of venues. Further updates relating to people management confirmed that the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee has already received over 800,000 applications to be volunteers for the Games.
The Commission also heard about the assessment being conducted by Beijing 2022 in relation to the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to 2021. The Organising Committee is keen to ensure its key deliverables, especially during the summer of 2021, avoid any major clashes with the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
In preparation for a busy few months, the IOC and Beijing 2022 committed to continuing positive collaboration to minimise any impact from the postponement of Tokyo 2020 and to take advantage of all opportunities that may help optimise the Games in Beijing in 2022.
Despite the unprecedented situation of two Olympic Games being held within six months of each other, all parties will make pledges to work closely together to capitalise on the opportunities and challenges to be faced through a “Peak to Peak” approach, from Tokyo to Beijing.
Other areas covered in the hour-long meeting included Games services, the strong progress made in both the volunteer recruitment process and sponsorship, and cultural and engagement activities.