How to

31 October 2016

China Already Ramping Up Preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics

Despite a (relatively) disappointing medal haul in Rio this summer, the Olympics are something that China takes very seriously. With its massive population, and state commitment to supporting athletes, the country is always a heavy hitter at the summer games. In the winter Olympics, however, China lags quite far behind, only grabbing 3 golds at Sochi, Russia in 2014. After last year’s winning bid for the 2022 winter Olympics, with Beijing set to become the only city to host both the summer and winter Olympics, China has been getting serious in its preparations. State officials have announced plans that, if approved, will make winter sports compulsory for all Beijing schoolchildren in the run-up to the games.

Img source: Jude Freeman / Flikr
The summer Olympics are a huge global event, but their winter counterpart has often been in their shadow. The 2008 Beijing Olympics pulled in 4.4 billion global viewers, for example, compared to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics’ 3.5 billion. In recent years, though, the winter version has been increasing in popularity, with organisers taking steps such as adding four new sports, namely snowboarding big air, curling mixed doubles; speed skating mass start, and alpine skiing team. And that’s not to mention the huge variety of types of ice skating alone, with figure skating usually the most watched event.

Beijing has recognised the increasing importance of the winter games, and perhaps the risk of it flopping at its own Olympics, by revealing these plans to make winter sports mandatory leading up to the winter Olympics in Beijing, according to People’s Daily Online. If approved, the plans will require every student from primary to high school to master at least one winter sport, with at least an hour’s practice a week for all students. Other measures proposed in the plan include giving discounts to winter sports students, removing registration fees from the city’s ice hockey leagues, and inviting famous winter sports athletes to teach classes.

China is not just ramping up to the Winter Olympics with extra classes, as it’s also focusing on building plenty of new facilities to accommodate it. The snow events will take place 124 miles northwest of Beijing in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, and China is building many renewable power plants to help power it. The ice events will take place in Beijing itself, where there are currently 20 indoor rinks and 20 seasonal outdoor rinks, as well as 3 touring rinks for students to use. By 2020, another 16 indoor rinks and 50 outdoor rinks will be installed, and extra private rinks opened to the public. That’s a lot of rinks to build and maintain, and this is how they do it.

If this development continues, who knows, maybe China could become a winter sports destination in the future. Harbin is already one of our recommended winter destinations to visit in Asia. The plans would certainly make China one of the contenders in the 2022 games, avoiding embarrassment on their own doorstep.

Sam Franklin

With a master’s in Literature, Sam inhales books and anything readable, spending his working hours reformulating the info he gathers into digestible articles. When not reading or writing, he likes to put his camera to work around the world, snapping street photography from Stockholm to Tokyo. Too much of this time spent in Japan teaching English has nurtured a weakness for sashimi, Japanese whisky, and robot cafés.