Officials from the Swiss Olympic Committee were “positively surprised” by Beijing 2022’s progress in Games preparations in a first visit to the Organising Committee from August 27-29.
Ralph Stöckli, Director of the Swiss Olympic Committee’s Olympic Games Department, and Susanne Böhlen, head of Swiss Olympic Team Support, held meetings with Beijing 2022 colleagues and went on venue tours in the three competition zones of Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou.
Stöckli praised Beijing 2022 for having a clear plan and “transparent milestones”.
“I’m positively surprised by how far and clear they already are in different areas,” he said, expressing confidence that Swiss athletes would love the experience in Beijing in four years’ time.
Beijing just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 Olympics, many of whose legacy venues will be used for the 2022 Winter Games.
Stöckli said that by doing so Beijing is showing the world that there are ways to stage sustainable Games that “make sense”.
“The concept of using a lot of existing facilities from the 2008 Summer Games is something very positive and also gives a positive feeling to the athletes,” he said.
A former curler who represented Switzerland at Turin 2006, Stöckli was excited by the idea of using the “Water Cube” National Aquatics Centre, the swimming and diving venue of Beijing 2008, as the curling venue of Beijing 2022.
“That is going to be quite emotional. I was just talking to Susanne (Böhlen): I have to work on my comeback,” said Stöckli jokingly. “It is going to be a very special place to play curling in.”
Switzerland and China have had a long Olympic connection. The International Olympic Committee has been headquartered in the “Olympic capital” of Lausanne since 1915, where the Winter Youth Olympic Games are to be held in 2020. Beijing will become the first city in the world to have hosted both the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games in 2022, while Nanjing hosted the Youth Olympic Games in 2014.
Switzerland won 15 medals (5 gold, 6 silver, 4 bronze) at PyeongChang 2018. Stöckli said Swiss athletes would certainly want to repeat the success in Beijing, though the competition would be tough.
The athletes would also be encouraged to “dive into the culture” of the host country outside “competing and winning”, Stöckli added.
Most of the medals Switzerland won in PyeongChang were from snow events, thanks to the Alpine country’s traditional strength on the snow.
Beijing 2022 would be “a great chance for China to develop winter sports” and the ease of travel between Beijing and the snow events venues -- a new high speed railway is to cut travel time to 20-50 minutes -- would help build a skiing culture around the Chinese capital, Stöckli said.
“The potential is endless if you look at Beijing, with so many people living here.”
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