The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 praised the progress being made by the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee, as preparations for the next Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games continue.
The Commission, which was joined by International Federations with FIS being represented by FIS President Gian Franco Kasper and Secretary General Sarah Lewis, met with the leadership of the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee via video-conference for an update on the work accomplished since the previous Commission meeting last July.
Acknowledging the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in China in recent months, members of the Commission offered their sympathy for those affected. Speaking after the meeting, IOC Coordination Commission Chair Juan Antonio Samaranch said: “China has faced an incredibly difficult period over the past few months – our thoughts are with all those impacted. We are glad to see a significant improvement in the situation in China, allowing the Organising Committee to return to almost normal working conditions. Despite these unique circumstances, Beijing 2022 has continued to meet key milestones, a true testament to its determination to provide the perfect stage for the world’s top winter athletes in just under two years’ time.
Beijing 2022 Executive Vice President Zhang Jiandong said: “After the outbreak of Covid-19 and following the recommendations and requirements of the Chinese government, Beijing 2022 not only prioritised the prevention and control of the pandemic, but also focused on Games preparations to ensure venue construction could resume at the earliest opportunity. Beijing 2022 has also taken steps to improve its management, general planning and coordination for the delivery of the Games. By innovating its working style, Beijing 2022 hosted a series of events via video conference, including the World Broadcaster Meeting, Partners Workshop and a National (Regional) Olympic Committee Open Day.”
During the meeting, Beijing 2022 confirmed that it is now in the readiness phase. Commission members were pleased to hear of developments being made on the Olympic and Paralympic Villages as it was confirmed that a section of the Yanqing Village is expected to be completed by the end of this year. They also welcomed the first completed indoor training venue in the Beijing competition zone, the “Ice Jar”, on 27 May.
Progress reports were given on the National Sliding Centre and the National Alpine Skiing Centre, both of which will be completed this year. In addition to holding events during the Games, both will host national and international sports competitions in the future. These facilities will not only be open for use by the general public but are also expected to be confirmed as Chinese national team training bases. The National Alpine Skiing Centre will also include summer sporting activities such as rock climbing and mountain biking, ensuring it evolves into a four-season sports resort.
While the topic of legacy focused on the future, all stakeholders acknowledged the current context in which the world finds itself, the impact Covid-19 is having across the sports industry, and the challenges facing Beijing 2022 in its preparations for the Games.
It was noted that the ability of international experts, officials and athletes to be able to travel to China will need to be closely monitored, and mitigation measures put in place should restrictions prove disruptive. This is especially relevant in areas like the testing and homologation of venues.
The Commission also heard about the assessment being conducted by Beijing 2022 in relation to the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to 2021. In preparation for a busy few months, the IOC and Beijing 2022 committed to continuing positive collaboration to minimise any impact from the postponement of Tokyo 2020 and to take advantage of all opportunities that may help optimise the Games in Beijing in 2022. Despite the unprecedented situation of two Olympic Games being held within six months of each other, all parties will make pledges to work closely together to capitalise on the opportunities and challenges to be faced through a “Peak to Peak” approach, from Tokyo to Beijing.
FIS President Gian Franco Kasper commented: "It was valuable to reconnect with the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee and the stakeholders to receive the latest status and planning for this next important pre-Olympic season. We have FIS World Cup competitions taking place in February 2021 that serve as the official test events in all the FIS disciplines alongside the Zhangjiakou 2021 FIS Freestyle Skiing, Freeski and Snowboard World Championships. Progress with the venues could be carried out with relatively little disruption throughout the past months and the planning for the upcoming competitions is moving forwards very well."