Xinhua Commentary: Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics ready to unite and inspire

Updated: February 4, 2022 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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A torch is pictured during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Torch Relay at the Badaling section of the Great Wall in Yanqing district of Beijing, Feb. 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Ren Chao)

The Beijing Winter Olympics will help unite and inspire the world in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BEIJING, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, which will officially begin on February 4, offers a symbol of hope and positivity in a coronavirus-stricken world.

Even before the first medal is won, these Games represent a triumph over adversity and serve as a reminder of sport's unique ability to unite and inspire.

Beijing 2022 will be a grand gathering of the global community with around 2,900 athletes from more than 90 countries and regions set to participate, becoming one of the largest in Winter Olympic history.

These Games will also have the lowest ever gender gap at a Winter Olympics. The proportion of events in which women are participating has risen for the 11th successive Games, with 52.75 percent of the total medals on offer to be contested by men and 47.25 percent by women.

The first Games, in the French resort town of Chamonix in 1924, had only two events in which women could participate. Since 1980, the number of events for women has almost quadrupled from 12 to 46.

Ye Jinguang of China's men's ice hockey team in a training session at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, Feb. 2, 2022. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)

Beijing 2022 will see Saudi Arabia and Haiti compete for the first time at a Winter Games, with both countries sending one giant slalom participant. The Middle Eastern nation has registered Fayik Abdi for the event while Richardson Viano will represent the Caribbean country.

Perhaps even more impressive than the long list of records and Olympic-firsts is the fact the Chinese capital is ready to welcome the world despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Tong Lixin, director of the organizing committee's sports department, has outlined a series of measures focusing on prevention and control. Athletes have been encouraged to be fully vaccinated while all events will take place within a closed loop to reduce the threat of mass contagion.

According to Tong, organizers are working hard to ensure athletes "feel at home" in a humane, welcoming environment.

Needless to say, China has been as good as its word to the Olympic movement and the global sports community by guaranteeing that the Games will go ahead as scheduled and in a safe manner.

Beijing 2022 is also a vivid demonstration of China's contribution to global low-carbon development. An example of this has been the use of eco-friendly technologies in the construction of sports facilities.

For the first time at the Olympic Games, all venues will be powered by renewable energy. Natural CO2 refrigeration systems will be used at four Beijing 2022 ice venues with the capacity to reduce energy consumption by more than 20 percent. All passenger vehicles, meanwhile, will boast energy-saving and clean-energy technology.

Sustainability has been another key factor in preparations. Six venues for these Games were also used at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. They include the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium, the stage for the Beijing 2022 opening and closing ceremonies, and the Water Cube, which will be home to curling.

 Athletes attend a group training session at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing, Jan. 31, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Fei)

All new and refurbished facilities have been certified with national sustainable construction standards that prioritize the efficient use of energy, water and materials.

There is also the promise of a long-lasting legacy for China. According to official statistics over 346 million Chinese people have participated in winter sports training, amateur or professional competitions, or winter sport leisure activities. That surpasses the goal of 300 million the government set in 2015 when Beijing won the Olympic bid. There are 654 standard ice rinks now in China, an increase of 317 percent from 2015, while the number of ski venues over the same period jumped from 568 to 803.

The long-term benefits of Beijing 2022 transcend sports. Developments in the competition zones of downtown Beijing, Beijing's northwest suburb district of Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou have boosted economic activity by spawning new businesses while narrowing inequalities between rural and urban areas.

The Games have led to major infrastructure investments that are improving the quality of life for millions. An example is the accelerated development of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, an initiative that cuts the travel time between Beijing and Zhangjiakou from three hours to just one hour.

Now that the preparations have been completed, it is time for the world to enjoy a celebration of sporting excellence without neglecting the fundamental Olympic principles of friendship and respect.

Let the Games begin.

Editor: Duan Jing