200-day countdown begins for Beijing 2022

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Vistiors are seen on the Olympic Pin Exhibition in the Arts and Crafts Mansion in the Wangfujing Street of Beijing, capital of China, July 17, 2021. The Pin Exchange Center of Beijing 2022 opened on Saturday. (Xinhua/Chen Zhonghao)

With competition venues tested, operations exercised and COVID-19 countermeasures being developed, Beijing has entered the final 200 days until the Winter Olympics next year and is poised to host safe and successful Games.

Despite challenges caused by the pandemic in areas such as logistics and international exchange, Beijing and co-host Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, are gearing up for the 2022 Winter Olympics smoothly, with organizers busy putting finishing touches on noncompetition facilities while finalizing plans this week for services during the Games.

All 12 competition venues in three zones-downtown Beijing, the capital's Northwest Yanqing district and Zhangjiakou-have been evaluated and approved by international winter sports federations after a series of domestic test events in February and April, the organizing committee confirmed on Monday to mark the start of the 200-day countdown to the opening ceremony on Feb 4.

Organizers are now focusing on the completion by October of all noncompetition venues, including internal decorations at the Main Media Center and renovation of the iconic National Stadium for ceremonies, as well as the development of logistics arrangements and pandemic control protocols for staging 10 more test events from September to December that potentially will be open to international athletes.

"We've almost finished all major tasks ahead of schedule by now," said Han Zirong, a vice-president of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, during a meeting last week.

"The infrastructure has met the Olympic requirements. Next, we have to train our operational teams up to the highest standards to run the facilities and services well," said Yan Cheng, Beijing 2022's director of human resources.

As a highlight of Beijing's sustainable plan for the Games, organizers have renovated four venues used at the 2008 Summer Olympics to host ice sports competitions at the Winter Games.

Post-Games operational plans for large-scale, newly built venues-such as the National Speed Skating Oval in downtown Beijing, the National Alpine Skiing Center in Yanqing and the National Ski Jumping Center in Zhangjiakou-for the hosting of high-level competitions, tourism, concerts and mass winter sports promotions were prioritized in the official Legacy Report of Beijing 2022 released last month.

The marketing program for the Games has attracted 42 domestic sponsors to sign regional endorsement deals with the organizing committee, apart from the International Olympic Committee's TOP program.

"Compared with figures at previous Winter Games released by the IOC, we can say that Beijing 2022 has so far achieved the highest marketing income in history," said Piao Xuedong, director of the organizing committee's marketing department.

Beijing's impressive progress has raised the expectations of the IOC and the international winter sports community.

"I have great expectations for Beijing having experienced the 2008 Games and also knowing that Beijing 2022 will be another huge outstanding success," IOC Vice-President Ng Ser Miang told China Central Television on Monday.

"Reports from the Beijing organizing committee continue to show that preparations are going extremely well and Beijing is ready," said the veteran sports administrator, who is from Singapore.

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