Beijing 2022 at the halfway mark: praise from athletes and an inspiring legacy

13 Feb 2022
IOC News Beijing 2022

Christophe Dubi, the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Executive Director for the Olympic Games, offered a quick response when asked today to describe his feelings about passing the midpoint in the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022: “It’s a relief, you know, when you've passed the halfway point and you're hearing from the athletes…they say this is extraordinary, and they post with smiles and joy and positive energy.”

Getty Images Getty Images

The comments came from today’s media briefing, during which Dubi recounted a recent unexpected late night call from an IOC colleague. He told journalists: “I'm picking up the phone thinking, ‘Okay, what's the problem of the night?’ He called me and said: ‘Listen, I was with a number of NOCs [National Olympic Committees] and I just needed to tell you that they are all incredibly happy, and especially their athletes.’ Then I said: ‘This is the best, good night!’”

He explained that this was, in part, testament to the efforts of all those working tirelessly to deliver the deliver the Games. He said: “You see a lot of people, including those that help us with the testing, and they are in hazmat suits. I went also to the polyclinic in the [Olympic] Village and you have people in hazmat suits…We owe them a huge credit. They spend their days in there trying to smile behind their mask….I say hats off.”

Dubi did however acknowledge the possibility that new operational issues could emerge in the remaining days of the Games, which will conclude on 20 February. He said: “Let's be very clear as well. We have week two. No issue, no problem is not important enough not to retain our full attention. And when I say our full attention, it's everything that can be done to improve the situation for everyone, but starting with the athletes.”

Beijing 2022 in numbers

This commitment was illustrated in a recent visit by Dubi to one of the isolation facilities. There, wearing a hazmat suit, he was able to see, first hand, the operations and accommodation that athletes and Games participants have been experiencing during their stays.

The National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, and the Ice Cube, formerly known as the Water Cube, and other venues are seen from the top level of the Olympic Tower in the Olympic Green on December 11, 2021 in Beijing, China. The area hosts a number of events for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, including the opening and closing ceremony. Getty Images

The focus on athletes was further emphasised by Beijing 2022’s Vice-President, Yang Shu’an, who said: “As we move on to the second half of the competition, we believe that competition will become more intense and exciting. The Beijing Organising Committee will still continue to adopt the principle of being athlete-centred, and will work together with the IOC, NOCs and IFs [International Sports Federations] to closely coordinate and cooperate with all the stakeholders and further improve our level of service, and to provide tailored, customised services to the athletes so that they can stay in their best shape and present the best of themselves to the rest of the world.”

With the first half of the Games now complete, Dubi took the opportunity to reflect on the wider impact of the Games. He said: “What is incredibly motivational is the legacies of these Games. And let's be let's be very clear here - you have different types of legacies.

 International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach poses for a photo with volunteers during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Torch Relay at the Beijing Olympic Park on February 04, 2022 in Beijing, China. Getty Images

“We have incredible venues, and they will serve the purpose of training the Chinese athletes, hosting community sport as well. And I know for a fact that a number of discussions are taking place for the hosting of future events. It's very important that you (the venue owners) and the International Federations have those discussions as well. It's very important to host future events - World Cups, World Championships - in what are magnificent venues.”

Dubi continued: “But legacy comes also in human capital. And here you have formidable capabilities to organise events. And all of the thousands of people that have been involved [in the Beijing 2022 Games] are human capital.”

Shaun White and Eileen Gu at Beijing 2022 Getty Images - Shaun White and Eileen Gu

The impact of human legacy goes beyond this, however. Dubi explained: “Legacy is also the athletes themselves. Some go – incredible Shaun White for his last contribution to the Olympic Games, the Olympic Movement, sport at large. New ones are coming in and are forging future legacies - Eileen Gu and others. And I say, the power of inspiration, the positive energy behind these people, allows us to push a mountain and confront any barrier, overcome any difficulty…This is extraordinary. This is very powerful.”

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