Mayor of Beijing and Beijing 2022 Executive President Chen Jining hosted ambassadors and diplomats from more than 110 countries at the organizing committee’s Shougang headquarters on October 25.
Chen briefed the ambassadors and diplomats as well as their spouses on the progress of Beijing 2022.
“We’ve gone all out in preparing for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The construction of new venues has all started. The construction of supporting infrastructure is well underway,” Chen said at the reception.
The Beijing Municipal Government holds an annual reception for foreign ambassadors and diplomats to China to build friendship and forge close ties between the Chinese capital and other countries.
The reception has been held in various landmarks of the city in previous years. It was the first time that the reception took place in Shougang, the rejuvenation of which Mayor Chen says reflects Beijing’s efforts to build a “more open, efficient and global city”.
The ambassadors praised Shougang's transformation and Beijing 2022’s sustainability drive, and expressed hope that the Olympic Winter Games would bring the people of their countries and of China closer.
One of China’s largest steel makers, Shougang began shutting down and relocating production at its headquarters in the west suburb of Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics. It has now become a successful example of urban renewal, with many of its old industrial facilities being turned into offices, leisure spaces, and winter sports training centres.
Beijing 2022’s venue for Snowboard Big Air and Freestyle Skiing Big Air will also be built in the Shougang compound, next to four cooling towers, a lake, and a hill.
“I think it will be a dramatic venue, the first ever of its kind. To have an Olympic venue in an old steel plant, Big Air is a great symbol for everything,” Canadian ambassador John McCallum said of Shougang Big Air after a tour to the top of Furnace No. 3, which is becoming a museum, and a panoramic view of the entire Shougang compound.
Closing the plant to help the environment was “an action which speaks more than a thousand words”, and Canada and China have plenty to learn from each other when it comes to hosting the Olympics, not least in post-Games use of the venues, McCallum said.
Canada hosted the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games, as well as the Calgary 1988 and Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Calgary is also bidding for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.
Beijing 2022 will be a special time for “large numbers of Canadians” to visit China to enjoy the excitement and “watch Canada win a few medals”, McCallum said. “But I like to see Canadians come here all the time…(to) see what it is really like, not just what they read in the newspapers.”
He also hopes that more Chinese tourists would go to Canada to ski and skate, as enthusiasm for winter sports surges in the lead-up to Beijing 2022.
German ambassador Clemens von Goetze echoed McCallum in stressing the importance of German and Chinese people visiting each other’s countries.
“It’s the people-to-people contact that makes our relations really lively. I hope the Winter Games will be an opportunity to bring even more German tourists to Beijing,” Goetze said.
Pakistani ambassador Masood Khalid also encouraged people in Pakistan to visit China for Beijing 2022, to enjoy the beauty of Beijing and to enjoy the Games, which would bring people of the world together.
"Sports is a very strong, universal means to promote goodwill, understanding, cordiality, and friendship. Sports are sports. Even when countries have competition and differences, when they come to the sports arena, they will forget those things,” Khalid said.
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