Beijing abuzz with Olympic spirit
Elementary school students in Qingdao, Shandong province, get into the Olympic spirit by enjoying some ice hockey training at their local rink. XINHUA
Less than a month to go before Beijing 2022 begins, local citizens are embracing the Olympic spirit as they eagerly await the start of the sporting extravaganza.
Special edition newspapers commemorating Beijing's successful bids for the 2008 and 2022 Games enjoy pride of place in the home of Gong Hubiao, an avid Olympic memorabilia collector. His room is filled with souvenirs marking memorable moments for China at the Olympics.
Gong clearly remembers the day Beijing won the Olympic bid on July 13, 2001, when he rode his bicycle to Tian'anmen Square to join in a grand celebration.
Last October, he took a photograph in front of the 100-day countdown clock in downtown Beijing's famous Wangfujing shopping street, holding self-designed bottle gourds painted with the Beijing 2022 emblem and mascots.
"Time flies, but the Olympic spirit remains in our hearts," said 61-year-old Gong.
Excitement is also building among local schoolchildren.
At Dianchang Road Primary School in western Beijing, students can be seen zooming around on roller skis, or practicing biathlon shooting.
A full-size curling rink is located at the back of the school. It is operational all year round, even in the summer when the temperature hits 35 Celsius.
Approximately 300 students at the school get to experience sports such as ice hockey, cross-country skiing, speed skating and curling.
"I have learned a lot about the Olympics at school. I hope the athletes can achieve their dreams at Beijing 2022," said 10-year-old Zhang Jinhao.
At the Dongsi Olympic community in central Beijing, a recent "mini marathon" drew wide participation from local residents.
"Over the past decade, we have organized diversified sports activities to commemorate Beijing 2008 and embrace Beijing 2022," said the community's deputy director, Zhang Guozhong.
Sun Yuanyuan, a former professional speed skater, has been promoting winter sports in communities in western Beijing since the city's successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
"I hope to contribute to Beijing 2022 and encourage more people to enjoy the ice and snow," Sun said.
In a public painting competition for Beijing 2022, more than 7,500 art works were selected from over 40,000 submissions. They will be given to overseas friends as gifts during the Games.
Hao Xiakun, who works at a Beijing-based airline, is proud that this hometown Zhangjiakou will co-host the Games. "When my hometown becomes a co-host city of Beijing 2022, I want to personally feel the Olympics. Now, I am really delighted to have the opportunity to serve for Beijing 2022," he said.
"The Olympics and Paralympics are just like old friends that I haven't met for 14 years. We hope to deepen our mutual understanding from our first encounter at Beijing 2008.Now, we come together again for a shared future in Beijing 2022."
An instructor teaches a child some skiing basics at a resort in Qujing, Yunnan province, as ice and snow fever grips the nation in the build-up to Beijing 2022. XINHUA
Amid the pandemic, comprehensive measures have been put in place in order to ensure a safe and secure Games.
"After years of preparations for the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, I think we are ready to provide the best quality services in medical care, accommodation, catering and other aspects," said Yu Debin, head of the services department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG).
Yu said the pandemic must be considered a major threat to the safe operation of the Games.
BOCOG, together with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC), recently published the second edition of the Beijing 2022 Playbook, which outlines all the COVID-19 countermeasures for the Games.
For the safety of Olympic-related personnel and the city, a special "closed-loop" system will be implemented. It allows fully vaccinated Olympic-related personnel to enter China without undergoing a compulsory 21-day quarantine.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading globally and poses an extra challenge to the safety of the Games, so we must take rigorous virus prevention and control measures for Beijing 2022," Yu said.
"We will do our best to strictly follow the closed-loop policy, and I do hope that all of the participants can follow those safety rules. That's the key to guaranteeing a safe Games," he said.
Beijing and Zhangjiakou held a series of test events in recent months, with the COVID-19 countermeasures proving effective during those events, Yu noted.
As for the catering services, Yu is confident athletes will enjoy the cuisine.
"There is an old saying in China: The food is what matters most to the people. When I attended international meetings in recent years, overseas friends remembered not only the gold medals that China won in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, but also the Chinese food. At Beijing 2022, we can create similar memories," Yu said.
As Beijing 2022 coincides with China's Spring Festival, organizers are aiming to generate a festive atmosphere for participants.
Some local dishes, such as Beijing roast duck and glutinous rice balls, will be on the menu to help Olympic participants learn more about Chinese cuisine, said Yu.
Anti-virus measures such as social distancing and hand disinfection facilities will be in place in dining halls, according to Yu. All the catering materials are monitored and traceable thanks to the support of local government and health authorities.
The 2022 Olympic Winter Games will take place between Feb 4 and 20, with the Paralympic Winter Games following from March 4 to 13.