Beijing 2022 prep continues amid stringent epidemic prevention

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With two years to go before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Chinese athletes of the games are undergoing intense trainings while the country carries out stringent prevention and control of the novel coronavirus.

Facing the new challenges, the General Administration of Sports (SGAS) of China and the winter sports administration center pushed forward epidemic prevention and control at the same time as preparation for the Winter Olympics, trying to minimize the impact of the epidemic.

Epidemic prevention and control

According to Liu Guoyong, director of competition at SGAS and deputy head of SGAS’s outbreak response office, no confirmed or suspected case was found among any sports teams currently in training, and national teams have been training at their stationed stadiums without going out into the public.

The 14th National Winter Games (scheduled to be held in Inner Mongolia in February) and the Alpine Ski World Cup in Beijing’s Yanqing district have been postponed and cancelled due to the outbreak. For athletes planning to attend overseas competitions, SGAS will facilitate their entry into the host countries and regions through communication and coordination.

The winter sports administration center has also taken stringent prevention measures. It has printed and distributed a work plan for epidemic prevention and control, screened relevant personnel, established a system of quarantine and medical observation for sports teams returning to Beijing, and minimized the risks of cross infection by delaying or canceling competitions, prohibited irrelevant personnel from entering training and living areas of sports teams, educated athletes about relevant knowledge and provided them with psychological counseling services, and reserved sufficient epidemic prevention supplies.

A historic leap

Challenges posed by the outbreak did not shake the confidence and determination of Chinese ice and snow athletes, and the Chinese sports teams are aiming a much higher goal in Beijing 2022 than in Pyeongchang 2018—participating in all 109 events of Beijing 2022 and achieving the best results in history. In 2018, China participated in 55 events and won one gold medal.

Since China won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in July 2015, its preparations have been mounting up to new levels. With the goal to make a historic leap, China formulated its preparation strategies.

As the host country, China’s athletes direct qualify for 61 of the 109 events, and they will compete to qualify for the remaining 48. About one-third of the 109 events had not previously been held in China.

"We didn't even know the equipment for some of the event," said Ni Huizhong, head of the administration center. "After the successful bidding, we made leaps in cultivating and selecting athletes and coaches, and made rapid progress in developing them."

In the run-up to Pyeongchang 2014, China had only two foreign coaches in relevant national teams; now, they number 170, and the administration center has also established cooperative relations with some world-renowned coaching teams.

With efforts in 2019, the number of athletes preparing for Beijing 2022 has been reduced from over 4,000 to 1,153, and the remaining have been divided into teams covering all 109 events. This year, outstanding ones will be selected among them.

Cultivating outstanding athletes

Through ramped up efforts, the number of gold medals and total medals won by Chinese ice and snow athletes doubled in the second half of the 2019-20 season over the same period of the last season.

Even so, Ni said he saw this as a fleeting achievement, and pointed out that there are still shortcomings to overcome, especially in certain events. He said proper measures should be taken according to different conditions of different teams and athletes. A joint cultivation model between competitions and Beijing 2022 has been adopted, aiming to encourage more regions to participate in sports event, and motivate more outstanding athletes nationwide to join the preparations of Beijing 2022.

An even higher level

In order to make a historic leap, preparation efforts carry a more profound significance as more outstanding athletes are cultivated for the future. The administration center is working on forming a national second-tier team with an eye toward the development of ice and snow sports in China after Beijing 2022, and about 300 athletes are expected to be selected to the team with special training bases, trainers, and training programs, Ni said.

Contacting and studying with top foreign experts during the preparations will help China’s cultivation of outstanding ice and snow athletes and coaches, which is a very important goal for the administration center during preparations, Ni added.

Most importantly, the preparations have also provided a huge boost to mass participation in ice and snow sports, contributing to the goal of bringing 300 million people to the games. This goal is the most important and iconic legacy of Beijing 2022, Ni said.

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