With well over 300 million Chinese people now taking up sport on snow and ice in about 2,000 ski resorts and ice rinks across the country, the IOC President underlined how athletes have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach not only their traditional supporters, but also a completely new fan base during these Olympic Winter Games.
“These Games are not the end of the story,” he said. “With their performance and their appearance, each of these athletes can win over a huge new fan community for the time after the Games. With this they can take their own popularity and the popularity of their winter sport to new heights.”
President Bach also explained how this progress has very a positive impact for China too: “Today, China is a winter sport country. The increased physical activity through winter sport is contributing to the health and well-being of the Chinese people.”
The economic benefits are other important aspect of this Chinese winter sports boom. The IOC President noted how the income from winter sport in China exceeded roughly USD 61 billion in the last season. In 2019, more than 100 million tourists visited the Olympic mountain regions alone.
“When Beijing was elected as host in 2015, over 16 per cent of the residents of the Chongli district, where Zhangjiakou is located, were living in poverty. By 2019, Chongli was officially declared to have eliminated poverty. Today over 20 per cent of the residents are employed in jobs related to winter sports,” he added.
By becoming the first city ever to host both summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games, Beijing is also showcasing solutions for a more sustainable future according to President Bach.
“From re-using venues from the Olympic Games 2008; to powering all Beijing 2022 venues with renewable energy; to minimising environmental impacts and reducing carbon emissions – all these initiatives underline the commitment of Beijing 2022 to contribute to sustainable development in China,” he explained.
A symbol of unity
The IOC President rejoiced in the fact that, six months after celebrating the historic, first-ever postponed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, organised in the unprecedent circumstances of the pandemic, the athletes will again show for two weeks how the world can look if everyone respects the same rules and each other.
He was also pleased to see this had been understood and agreed by the world’s leaders and decision-makers of the world, who have declared their support for their athletes at the Games: “All the athletes, who have been overcoming great uncertainties in this respect for so long, can make their dream come true and compete at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. This is thanks to the now wide support of the international community.”
“We know that sport alone cannot create peace. We cannot take decisions on war and peace – this is the exclusive remit of politics. But when it comes to peace, words and symbols are also important. Because these symbols show us how the world can look if we all respect the same rules and each other. The Olympic Games are this symbol of peace and unity, showing us the way to a better and more peaceful future.”