On course for 'streamlined, safe and splendid' Games

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An athlete participates in a testing program for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Feb. 19, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Chenlin)

Beijing 2022 organizers have once again assured the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the world that China will deliver a "streamlined, safe and splendid" Winter Olympics.

On Monday, the countdown to the Games reached the 200-day mark. On Wednesday, Zhang Qian, head of the international relations department for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG), presented a progress report on preparations at the 138th IOC Session in Tokyo.

The report underlined seven aspects: Venues and infrastructure, test events, operation of competitions and venues, Games services, communications and engagement, sustainability and legacy, and COVID-19 prevention and control.

BOCOG said all 12 competition venues have been completed and passed on-site pre-homologation tests conducted by International Federations (IFs), while non-competition venues are currently being constructed or renovated.

The Main Media Center was recently handed over to Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), and infrastructure construction, such as water and power supplies, will be completed on schedule.

Test activities were staged during the most recent snow season to examine venues and facilities, operation, and emergency response, with briefings held for comments and suggestions from international experts.

"Ten international test events and three training weeks are planned from September to December. All elements of the Games will be tested," said Zhang, adding that from now until September, some 80 experts from IFs and OBS will come to China for on-site inspection of venues.

BOCOG has released an updated competition schedule and is also working on athletes' qualification tracking.

Logistics teams have been established for all venues, covering services such as accommodation, catering, and transport. The final version of the Beijing 2022 Customs and Freight Forwarding Guide was released.

Zhang told the IOC meeting that BOCOG has welcomed five new corporate sponsors on board since March, bringing the total number of marketing partners to 45.

In addition, over 1.12 million people have applied to volunteer at Beijing 2022.

Zhang revealed that more than 300 public events were held, engaging 100 million people. As many as 15 million primary school students across the country participated in a Beijing 2022 mascot story-writing contest. Other events such as the One-Year Countdown, International Olympic Day celebrations and Beijing 2022 Live Site have all helped to increase anticipation levels surrounding the Games.

Zhang confirmed that the design of the medals has been finalized, the torch design has been released, while the IOC has approved the overall torch relay plan.

During Tokyo 2020, BOCOG will launch an event called "Next stop, Beijing!" so that both Olympic Games are mutually enhancing.

A Carbon Neutralization Plan has been developed for use at 11 Games venues, including those that will host speed skating and alpine skiing, ensuring they are powered by green electricity.

The Legacy Plan was fully implemented with eco-restoration in the Yanqing and Zhangjiakou zones. A low-carbon policy will be strictly adhered to throughout the buildup to the Games.

"The health and safety of athletes and other participants are highest on our agenda," said Zhang.

BOCOG has set up an international working group on COVID-19 control together with the IOC and the World Health Organization, while Chinese health authorities have established a special task force for epidemic control during the Beijing Games.

"With our joint efforts and further cooperation, we will deliver a streamlined, safe and splendid Games to the world," said Zhang.

Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., chairman of the IOC's Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission, also offered updates about the Games' venues, operations, and legacy and sustainability plans.

"All planning is good. All planning is in pretty good shape, and everything is on schedule and under reasonable control, despite the very difficult COVID situation and measures that have to be taken," he commented.

"We need a very successful Games in February next year in Beijing. We really need that success for the sake of everybody, for the sake of keeping that light of hope really bright and open," he added.

Bach: Keep going strong

IOC president Thomas Bach also praised the progress made under difficult circumstances.

"Keep going strong with regard to the preparations," Bach told the BOCOG delegation at the IOC Session.

After hearing the BOCOG progress report, Bach reiterated the top priority is to ensure a safe and secure Games.

"Thank you for having demonstrated the great progress and very satisfactory situation with regard to the technical preparations, the venues, the sustainability and legacy plans, and the engagement of the Chinese people with winter sports," he said.

"We will continue to work closely together to make these Games, first of all, safe and secure. The same principle will apply and has to be applied for all Olympic Games that the first priority is to have safe and secure Olympic Games.

"We can also make progress on all aspects of this preparation very quickly. In this way, we are preparing what we all want to have. That means a successful Olympic Winter Games some months from now in Beijing."

Bach was also impressed by China's vision of engaging 300 million people in winter sports.

"You can imagine what this will mean for winter sports. If you have after this Games, 300 million people more engaged in winter sports, this will make winter sports globally," the German said.

"This is a real milestone in the global development of winter sports, which we all should support. It's a great opportunity for winter sports and sports in general.

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