The successful efforts to involve more than 300 million Chinese people in snow and ice activities is the most significant legacy of the Beijing Winter Olympics to global winter sports and the Olympic movement, said an official with the nation's top sports authority.
Tu Xiaodong, director of the publicity department of the General Administration of Sport, said the commitment was made not only to showcase China's contribution to the Olympic movement, but also to meet the fitness needs of the entire population. "The realization of this goal was arguably the first 'gold medal' of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics," Tu said at a news conference on Thursday.
During its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, China made a commitment to the international community to "engage 300 million people in ice and snow activities", and recent statistics showed that the country has achieved this goal.
By January, over 346 million people have participated in winter sports since 2015, when Beijing was selected to host the event, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
The country has also greatly boosted investment in winter sports infrastructure, equipment manufacturing, tourism and winter sports education. The data showed that China now has 654 standard ice rinks, 803 indoor and outdoor ski resorts.
The number of snow and ice leisure tourism trips in 2020-21 snow season reached 230 million, generating income of over 390 billion yuan ($61.6 billion).
The general public has also shown increasing interest in winter sports.
Since November, nearly 3,000 mass events related to the Beijing Winter Olympics have been held across the country, involving more than 100 million participants.
Driven by the Winter Olympics, winter tourism, equipment manufacturing, professional training, venue construction and operation have developed rapidly in recent years, yielding a more complete industrial chain.
The boom in winter tourism has also given a boost to rural areas. Altay prefecture in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, for example, has taken advantage of its ice and snow tourist attractions, which helped the prefecture shake off poverty by March 2020.
The country also independently developed some high-end winter sports equipment, including an innovative snow wax truck that waxes the skis of athletes to maintain performance.
In recent years, China has explored new technologies and advanced simulated ice and snow, built portable ice rinks and introduced dryland curling and roller-skating to attract more people to winter sports. The popularity of winter sports has expanded from regions rich in ice and snow resources to the whole country and is not solely restricted to winter, Tu said.
These measures have not only boosted the development of winter sports in China, but also provided solutions for other countries that do not have abundant ice and snow, he added.
Source: China Daily