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Published: 11:39, January 31, 2022 | Updated: 11:43, January 31, 2022
President Xi's vision helps give shape to Olympics
By Cao Desheng
Published:11:39, January 31, 2022 Updated:11:43, January 31, 2022 By Cao Desheng

In this Jan 22, 2022 photo, children perform with Bing Dwen Dwen, mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, during a rehearsal of the Games' opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Beijing, China. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

From the bidding for the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games to the extensive preparations, President Xi Jinping has played a leading role and has vowed to present "fantastic, extraordinary and excellent" Games to the world.

With global vision, Xi wants the Beijing Games to contribute to the Olympic movement and greater public involvement in winter sports, as well as to enable the Olympic spirit to ease political tensions and advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

The Beijing Winter Olympics will open on Friday, and Xi, a keen sports fan, will attend the opening ceremony in Beijing and join global winter sports fans in enjoying the world-class competitions.

When he attended the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia eight years ago, he told Russia's Rossiya TV channel, that he loves winter sports.

With global vision, President Xi wants the Beijing Games to contribute to the Olympic movement and greater public involvement in winter sports, as well as to enable the Olympic spirit to ease political tensions and advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind

"I like watching ice hockey games, speed skating, figure skating and freestyle skiing. Hockey is my favorite," Xi said.

The coming weeks will show how Xi's commitment to China's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics is now being turned into reality.

He appeared on television just hours before members of the International Olympic Committee cast their votes on July 31, 2015, and promised "fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Winter Games".

"The 2022 Winter Olympic Games, if held in China, will boost exchanges and mutual understanding between the Chinese and other civilizations of the world, encourage more than 1.3 billion Chinese to engage in winter sports with interest and passion, and give them yet another opportunity to help advance the Olympic movement and promote the Olympic spirit," Xi assured the IOC members in a speech given by video.

The IOC's decision to award the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing makes the Chinese capital the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games. Beijing impressed the world in 2008, and now it is ready to do so once again.

President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, inspects preparations for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing’s Chaoyang district on Jan 4. (SHEN HONG / XINHUA)

The president has demonstrated personal commitment to ensuring the Games' success, paying numerous visits to the sports venues and offering his encouragement to China's athletes.

ALSO READ: Xi: China ready to deliver safe, splendid Winter Olympics

On Jan 4, the first workday after the New Year holiday, he made a fifth inspection of the preparations for the Games.

He visited the National Speed Skating Oval, the Main Media Center, the athletes' village, the Gamestime Operations Command Center and a winter sports training base in Beijing. He learned about specific measures that would ensure the event would be "a complete success".

President Xi has demonstrated personal commitment to ensuring the Games' success, paying numerous visits to the sports venues and offering his encouragement to China's athletes

During that inspection tour, Xi said that thanks to years of effort, the work on all fronts had been completed. "We are fully confident and able to present fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Olympic Games to the world."

As Xi advocated, all preparations for the Games followed the concept of hosting "green, inclusive, open and corruption-free Olympics", an idea concurring with China's new development philosophy.

Xi has often pointed out that sports provide a way to improve people's health and fulfill their aspirations for a better life. That explains why he has pledged to get more than 300 million Chinese on skis and skates, and why health has been incorporated into Beijing's second Olympic undertaking.

Just as China used the 2008 Summer Olympics to push its economic and social development, Xi intends to use the 2022 Games as a catalyst to promote sustainable economic growth, not only in Beijing, but also in areas surrounding the capital. This is in line with the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020, which aims to make the Olympic Games fit into the long-term development plan of the city and region.

President Xi Jinping meets with Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Jan 25. (ZHANG LING / XINHUA)

President Xi has often pointed out that sports provide a way to improve people's health and fulfill their aspirations for a better life. That explains why he has pledged to get more than 300 million Chinese on skis and skates, and why health has been incorporated into Beijing's second Olympic undertaking

Chongli was once an extremely poor county with limited agricultural income in Zhangjiakou, one of the Games

AL competition zones in Hebei province. In 2015, 16.8 percent of the county's 100,000 residents were classified as living below the national poverty line.

ALSO READ: Winter Olympics offer chance for world to stand together

But this mountainous county, where most of the 2022 Winter Olympics' snow events will be held, has been tSO READransformed into a skier's paradise thanks to booming tourism. In 2019, The New York Times named Chongli one of 52 ski destinations worth visiting.

Today, nearly 30,000 of its 126,000 residents are employed by ski resorts or related companies and organizations, a turn of events that has greatly improved the situation in the county.

In addition to spurring regional development, Xi has also expressed China's commitment to upholding the Olympic spirit and making the Beijing Games a bridge of solidarity and cooperation.

On the international stage, Xi has often used diplomatic occasions to promote friendship and cooperation between China and other countries and international organizations through sports.

In June 2018, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin jointly watched a friendly China-Russia youth ice hockey game in Tianjin, near Beijing, and they exchanged team uniforms and posed for a group photo with the players in the game. Xi said China will continue to expand sports exchanges with Russia, especially in ice hockey, to strengthen bilateral ties.

The Olympic flame for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is on display in Beijing, capital of China, on Dec 29, 2021. (PHOTO / IC)

In addition to spurring regional development, President Xi has also expressed China's commitment to upholding the Olympic spirit and making the Beijing Games a bridge of solidarity and cooperation

In a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Sept 7, Xi called on both countries to firmly support each other in respectively hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 and the Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics in 2026, and to strengthen their partnership in ice and snow sports and related industries.

With the world still battling challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, compassion, solidarity and friendship among nations have never been more crucial, observers said.

IOC President Thomas Bach has said: "We need this solidarity to be able to address the great challenges of humankind. There is not only the virus, but maybe future health challenges. This is about sustainable development in a holistic way."

READ MORE: Asian countries extend support for Beijing Winter Olympics

The United Nations has long recognized the contribution of sports to development and peace, and of the acceptance of sports in promoting mutual understanding, friendship, nondiscrimination, and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this context, the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics can serve as a new beacon of hope, demonstrating the value of unity, resilience and international cooperation in overcoming today's pandemic, said Siddharth Chatterjee, resident coordinator of the United Nations in China.

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