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Beijing promotes love of winter sports

By Luo Wangshu Source: China Daily Updated: 2022-02-08


People enjoy a sunny winter's day of skating and sledding on the ice at central Beijing's Shichahai Lake on Feb 1. [Chen Xiaogen/for China Daily]

Fourth grader Xu Depei has been skating a couple of times over the winter holidays, which began in late January.

"I've had a lot of fun on the ice. It wasn't cold, and exercising makes me strong and warm," the 10-year-old said.

She can name the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots, Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon and has also learned a bit about the Winter Olympics.

For example, Xu knows that the Olympic host city is announced seven years in advance and has become familiar with the names of several "strange and fancy" winter sports, like curling and the biathlon, events her mother did not know.

Xu and her friends have even tried curling for themselves. "It wasn't as easy as it looks," she said.

Thanks to the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which opened on Friday, many Beijing residents like Xu and her family have been able to enjoy winter sports-related activities and to get to know more about them.

According to Beijing's cultural and tourism bureau, the capital will be organizing 8,266 city activities to encourage residents to engage with the Games and promote winter sports during the Olympics.

Sixteen Winter Olympic squares have been set up in 15 districts, mostly in parks and open public spaces.

From Friday, performances by professional and amateur artists are being held in the squares, which residents can enjoy for free.

They also have "experience areas" to give residents a taste of the pleasure of winter sports, and bulletin boards displaying details of the Winter Olympic Games.

One of the 15 squares is in the Olympic Forest Park in Beijing. Located close to the east gate in the park's northern region, the venue is marked by a blue and white archway, which is designed to attract visitors and to signify a wintry theme.

Information boards have been placed around the square with details of winter sports, the competition schedule, the venues hosting the games and information about Olympic culture.

In the center of the square is a blue and white stage decorated with what organizers describe as an "ice ribbon". A curling rink has been set up next to it.

Zhang Chao, a resident who lives close to the park, visited the square on Thursday.

"Information about the Games is everywhere these days, and it's making people excited about winter sports," he said, adding that he's now more interested in taking up winter sports as a result.

"I'd heard of some winter sports before, but I didn't pay them much attention. The Winter Olympic Games actually makes me want to participate more," he said, adding that he planned to go skating the following day.

Wei Yurong carefully read the schedule posted at the square and said that he enjoys figure skating the most.

Born and raised in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province-the coldest province in the country-the 70-year-old has enjoyed winter sports since he was young but reckoned that because of the Winter Olympics, even he has learned about a few new disciplines, like curling.

"Compared to my hometown, Beijing was less passionate about winter sports before. But in recent years, especially this year, they have started trending, thanks to the Games," he said, adding that his granddaughter is learning ice hockey.

"My son took my granddaughter skiing several times this winter," he said.

Wei added that he hopes the cost of winter sports in Beijing can be lowered in the future to allow more people to participate.

China has successfully encouraged 300 million people to try winter sports during the lead-up to the Winter Games, according to official data.

"Today, China is a winter sport country. This will change the global landscape for winter sport forever," International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said.