A shining example to the world

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Defined by extraordinary sporting feats, rich legacy and excellent organization during a challenging time, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have earned high acclaim in a closing review from the International Olympic Committee.

An intricately designed cauldron holds the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games at the National Stadium on Feb 4. [Photo/Xinhua]

Ten months since witnessing Beijing host the Olympic Games for a second time, the IOC and its coordination commission for the event hailed Beijing 2022 as a resounding success for record-breaking achievements on and off the field of play amid the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic.

Chinese organizers' professional, safe and smooth delivery of the winter sports gala, despite the logistical and operational challenges presented by COVID-19, as well as the Games' lasting legacy will go down in history as a magnificent demonstration of the Olympic values, said Juan Antonio Samaranch, chair of the IOC's coordination commission for Beijing 2022.

"The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 were a showcase for incredible sporting performances," Samaranch said in his remarks while presenting the commission's final report on Beijing 2022 to an IOC executive board meeting on Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"In addition to delivering a safe and successful Games, the organizing committee's ambitious vision and promises were achieved and exceeded," said Samaranch, who is also an IOC vice-president.

Based on data analysis and debriefs with organizers and stakeholders, the report summarizes the key achievements of the Beijing Winter Games, including athletic performances, media exposure, legacy and sustainability, and furthers the IOC's efforts to optimize future Games' delivery and experiences by drawing up seven recommendations based on Beijing 2022's practices.

The outstanding example set by Beijing 2022 in reusing existing facilities — mostly the 2008 Summer Games venues — incorporating preparation into urban renewal plans, and minimizing environmental impact while promoting clean energy have shed light on the future of the Olympic Games, said the report.

To host the most sophisticated sporting event on Earth when the highly contagious Omicron variant raged around the world, Beijing 2022's solution — after thorough discussions with the IOC, the World Health Organization and all stakeholders — to operate the Games inside a "closed loop" proved a feasible and flexible way to guarantee the safe delivery of the Games on time.

All essential participants stayed and traveled inside the closed loop and were subject to daily COVID-19 testing and were separated from local communities, while athletes and stakeholders traveled between official hotels and venues using designated transport services.

Thanks to the strict operation of this system, imported COVID-19 cases were kept under control throughout the Games, with no infections leaking out of the loop.

Although canceling ticket sales to the public, the Beijing 2022 organizing committee went to great lengths to ensure the presence of 260,000 spectators at competition venues to generate a warm and familiar atmosphere for athletes even without capacity crowds.

"Even with the challenges of the COVID-19 countermeasures, the operations and quality of services met expectations," said the report.

"Any issues were promptly addressed. With athletes and sport at the center of considerations, the infrastructure, venues and fields of play were outstanding.

"The people of China were exceptional hosts who offered immense hospitality, warmth and kindness."

With safe and high-quality venues at their disposal, over 2,800 athletes from 91 countries and regions broke two world and 17 Olympic records during 16 days of competition, which produced a record total of 109 gold medals.

The rise of China's next-gen winter sports talents, such as snowboarding gold medalist Su Yiming and sensational freestyle champion skier Gu Ailing, to international stardom has inspired a nationwide winter sports boom in China, where 346 million people had participated in winter sports and related activities in the lead-up to the Games.

With women accounting for 45 percent of the athletes, Beijing 2022 was the most gender-balanced Olympic Winter Games in history. It featured the highest ever number of women's events with 46 out of a total of 109, the report said.

Sustainability and legacy were other key contributors to the success of the Beijing 2022 Games, the report said. All Beijing 2022 venues were powered by renewable energy for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games.

Reusing venues built for the 2008 Summer Games, such as the National Aquatics Center for curling and Wukesong Arena for ice hockey, to host winter sports events at Beijing 2022 set a blueprint for the sustainable future of the Olympic Movement.

Mountain venues in co-host areas Yanqing, a northwest Beijing suburb, and Zhangjiakou, a city in surrounding Hebei province, have all opened to the public for mass fitness events, hiking, sightseeing and outdoor leisure activities since May, helping generate 81,000 job opportunities for local residents in the regions.

The Games enjoyed huge public support in China. The official mascot Bing Dwen Dwen, a panda wearing an ice suit, became a hot commodity during Spring Festival, selling 5.2 million units by the end of May 2022.

Beijing 2022 was watched by over 2.1 billion viewers across linear TV and digital channels, with more broadcast hours and media coverage than any previous editions of the Winter Games, the report said.

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