Exclusive interview丨Tong Lixin: CIFTIS boosts confidence in recovery of Chinese ice and snow sports industry


Tong Lixin, director of the Sports Department at the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (hereinafter the committee), gave an overview of the preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics in an interview with The Beijing News before attending the opening ceremony and main forum of the World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo (WWSE), part of the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS).

Tong said the committee would like to share the progress of preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics with the participants of CIFTIS, especially those of the WWSE. He deemed CIFTIS to be a good communication platform for the committee as reference and inspiration for future work. He said he also believed that CIFTIS could help boost confidence in the recovery of the Chinese ice and snow sports industry.

About preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics

The Beijing News: What topics will you focus on when attending the opening ceremony and main forum of the WWSE?

Tong: The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the global sports industry badly. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was delayed. A number of events including the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup 2019/2020 Yanqing leg which was also the first test event for the 2022 Winter Olympics, were postponed.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping said, we should find opportunities amid crises and seek a new start. Under the backdrop of the continual fight against Covid-19, China’s sports industry should actively adapt to changes and seek opportunities in this crisis. What should the committee do to cope with the difficulties and challenges as well as deal with the new trends in global ice and snow sports? What inspiration can we get? In what way can the ice and snow sports industry innovate and achieve breakthroughs? How to reboot the global ice and snow sports events? In which fields should we deepen cooperation with Western countries strong in ice and snow sports? These will all be our focus.

The Beijing News: What would you like to share with other guests such as the IOC (International Olympic Committee) members and ambassadors of countries strong in ice and snow sports at the WWSE?

Tong: We would like share the latest progress in preparations for Beijing 2022, about the schedule, sports equipment, personnel training and venues, which are of wide concern.

(I) Schedule of the gGames

Based on communication and consultation with the IOC, the international Olympic winter sports federations, Olympic Broadcasting Services and other stakeholders, the committee has basically finalized the schedule by day and the schedule by session. Beijing 2022 will consist of 228 competition sessions across 19 days. The Mixed Doubles Curling round robin to be held two days before the opening ceremony (Feb 2) will be the opener, and the Women’s Mass Start 30km (Cross-Country Skiing), scheduled hours before the closing ceremony, will be the last event.

(II) Sports Equipment

Procurement is underway as scheduled, and most of the equipment will be in place before the launch of a series of winter sporting events dubbed "Experience Beijing".

(III) Personnel Training

A total of 11 teams have been formed for 15 disciplines, and the core members are already in place. The committee is collaborating with national sports associations to offer training to domestic technical officials. The training program is going on well, and more than 2,800 people have been recruited.

To host the event frugally, the committee is trying its best to make it possible for the same team of domestic technical officials to serve both the Experience Beijing events and Beijing 2022.

Moreover, more than 200 foreign experts recommended by IOC and international Olympic winter sports federations have been hired to assist in the organization of the event and the building of venues.

(IV) Venues

The committee has teamed up with the government of Beijing to build venues for the event. The projects are progressing smoothly, and all of them are expected to be completed before the Experience Beijing events. Among the venues are the National Stadium (the Bird’s Nest) for the opening and closing ceremonies, the National Aquatics Centre (Water Cube) for curling, the Capital Indoor Stadium for short track speed skating and figure skating, the National Indoor Stadium for men’s ice hockey, and the Wukesong Sports Centre for women’s ice hockey.

Preparations for test events make steady progress

The Beijing News: As we know, part of the test events for Beijing 2022 have been postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Can you briefly describe the arrangements for the test events? Which test events will be held in the coming snow season?

Tong: The Experience Beijing events consist of 16 test matches and four other test events for the Olympic Winter Games, and five test matches for the Paralympic Winter Games. In addition to the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup 2019/2020 Yanqing leg which was originally scheduled in February 2020, the ISU Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating and World Cup Short Track are scheduled in December 2020, while 21 test matches and two test events are set to take place in the first half of 2021, and another two test events in the second half of 2021.

The committee has enhanced collaboration with the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the international Olympic winter sports federations to cope with the challenges caused by the pandemic, doing its utmost to keep to the original plan.

The Beijing News: Have the continuous achievements in venue building helped increase confidence in hosting the test matches?

Tong: The preparations for the test matches have made steady progress, and organizing committees for these matches have been formed. Despite the negative impact of the pandemic, the committee has maintained a positive attitude toward the events, and has been following the plan to build the venues, purchase equipment and make arrangements for personnel training.

So far, Big Air Shougang, National Alpine Skiing Centre and Genting Snow Park have hosted events and won the recognition of related international Olympic winter sports federations. The tracks at National Sliding Centre have basically been completed, and will be evaluated by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation and International Luge Federation in October for pre-accreditation.

The Beijing News: What’s the biggest challenge for hosting a high-standard test match for Beijing 2022?

Tong: A test match is aimed at testing the facilities and working mechanisms as well as training the staff for better organization of a bigger event. The Experience Beijing events include a number of globally renowned world cup and championship competitions with their own standards and rules. Under the leadership of the Leading Group for the 24th Olympic Winter Games and the Leading Party Group of the committee, we have confidence in hosting the test matches successfully, though there are risks and challenges, especially amid the global Covid-19 outbreak.

To host high-standard test matches, the first step is to accelerate the building of venues and make sure that they meet the required criteria. The second is to make up the weak link in personnel training by enhancing cultivation of professionals for the organization of the competitions, such as technical officials, mountain sports organization personnel and ice management personnel. Special attention should be paid to cultivating professionals for such programs as alpine skiing, bobsleigh and luge, and ski jumping, in which the country lacks experience. Besides, the committee must cooperate with international sports organizations and domestic epidemic prevention and control departments to make effective anti-epidemic plans for the test matches, and try its best to meet domestic anti-epidemic regulations, international common practices and the goals of the events.

Exchanges with countries strong in ice and snow sports

The Beijing News: What is your opinion on the positive influence of CIFTIS, especially the WWSE, on the preparations for Beijing 2022?

Tong: CIFTIS, especially the WWSE, can provide good opportunities for the parties concerned to share good practices in fighting Covid-19 and seek new opportunities from the pandemic for global sports. There are very helpful references and inspiration for the preparations, and the events are expected to help boost confidence in the recovery of the Chinese ice and snow sports industry.

The Beijing News: What will the committee do to borrow experience from CIFTIS for the preparations for Beijing 2022?

Tong: CIFTIS and the WWSE, especially the exhibition of technologies for Beijing 2022, will give a holistic picture of technical solutions, financial guarantees, high-tech services and other preparations for various ice and snow sports competitions. It also offers a good opportunity for us to learn from countries strong in such sports. The committee will take full advantage of this opportunity to learn and introduce world-leading practices in such aspects as mountain sports organizing and ice and snow affairs management.


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