China's winter sports industry shows enduring vitality
BEIJING -- China's winter sports industry is expected to be valued at one trillion yuan (about 140 billion U.S. dollars) by 2025, which was one of the most frequently mentioned figures during the World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo 2023 (WWSE).
"The number is estimated to hit 890 billion yuan in 2023 according to the current report on the development of China's winter sports industry, so the one-trillion target could be achieved soon," introduced Zhang Li, executive vice president of the Asia Digital Group at the three-day event which kicked off on Friday.
The Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games has been a significant driver for the country's winter sports in recent years, with lasting legacies in venues, talents and culture.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach delivered a speech via video at the main conference of WWSE, saying, "The genuine affection and passion for the Olympic Games that all of you the Chinese people displayed was truly heartwarming."
"I am delighted to see more people, particularly the youth, join in winter sports. They are the hope and future," said World Anti-Doping Agency vice president Yang Yang, China's first ever gold medalist at a Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City 2002.
At the WWSE exhibition area, visitors waited in line to experience curling, which most of them knew little about before Beijing 2022. But now, it has become a popular winter sport in China all year round.
"The National Aquatics Center (NAC), dubbed as the 'Ice Cube' hosted the Beijing 2022 curling competitions. It is an Olympic venue with quality ice rinks for both elite-level sports and tourism. Besides, a curling track can also be built in hours in an exhibition hall or other places for the public," said an exhibitor Zhao Zhenhua.
Beau Welling, president of World Curling Federation (WCF), said, "We remain very optimistic about curling in China and look forward to helping its development. The WCF has a memorandum of understanding with the NAC for it to be used as a world curling academy training center."
This winter, a number of world-level winter sports events will take place in Beijing, including the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating, the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series, and the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) Big Air competitions.
"Beijing 2022 showed the world how captivating winter sports can be, and now Beijing is building on that legacy. The FIS wants to embrace new technologies, attract new generations and engage new markets, taking snow sports to the next level," said FIS President Johan Eliasch.
Ge Jun, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports, noted, "The WWSE being held in the Shougang Park, where the Beijing Winter Olympic venue Big Air Shougang is located, demonstrates a practice of post-Games use of Olympic venues."
"Beijing, the first city in the world hosting both the summer and winter editions of the Olympics, will continue to promote winter sports activities in schools and communities, strengthen the international cooperation, and enhance the cultural exchanges," Ge added.