5 years ago on 31 July 2015, the city’s name was called at an IOC session in Kuala Lumpar to announce Beijing’s successful bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 (Beijing 2022 Games). As the first city to host both Summer and Winter Games alongside co- host city Zhangjiakou, Beijing’s committed itself to hosting a “green, inclusive, open and clean” Games.
Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Games competition venues and infrastructure are currently on track to be completed by the end of the year. Sustainability has been given top priority by the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (Beijing 2022) since Games preparations began, aligning with reforms introduced in the Olympic Agenda 2020.
BUILDING ON THE PAST
In line with this commitment to sustainability, measures have been implemented to maximise the use of existing venues and facilities. Shougang Park, once an industrial steel complex, has undergone huge renovations to find new purpose as the home of Beijing 2022’s headquarters. The park is also home to the newly constructed Big Air, the world’s first permanent Big Air structure.
Building on from the successful legacy of the Beijing 2008 Games, Beijing 2022 will capitalise on existing venues. Of the total 44 planned venues and facilities, 25 will be renovated from existing venues, 6 will be temporary, and 6 facilities were part of the city’s bid even prior to Beijing’s successful Winter Olympic bid. Only 7 facilities, 16% of the total, will be newly built for the Games.
The ‘Water Cube’, the swimming and diving venue from 2008, has been transformed into the ‘Ice Cube’, featuring a convertible rink that can be used for curling events. The famous Bird’s Nest, will stage the opening and closing ceremony, just as it did 12 years ago; while the women’s hockey events will be on show at the Wukesong Sports Centre, the basketball venue in 2008. All venues in the Beijing competition zone will be able to easily transition between summer and winter sports in the future.
In Zhangjiakou, one of three competition zones, existing ski resort Genting Snow Park, has been upgraded to become the freestyle skiing and snowboarding venue for the Beijing 2022 Games.
EYEING THE FUTURE
Post-Games utilisation has been a challenge for every organising committee, and Beijing 2022 was no exception.
The main structure of the National Speed Skating Oval, the only new ice sports venue, was recently completed. Nicknamed the ‘Ice Ribbon’, it will be able to host ice hockey, figure skating, curling and other ice sports following the Games. All the Beijing venues will not only be able to host international and domestic events after the Games but will be open to the public.
When designing the National Alpine Ski Centre and National Sliding Centre, extra attention was paid to post-Games utilisation as alpine skiing, bobsleigh, skeleton and luge were not as familiar to Chinese audiences. Therefore, ski routes were developed in the surrounding areas especially for amateur skiers, while competition tracks will stay in place for high-level competitions. Beijing 2022 is striving to leave behind a legacy that fuels passion for winter sports and encourage more and more people to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Sustainability has also been reflected in the eco-friendly measures adopted throughout the entire construction process. Detailed investigations and surveys of the flora and fauna of the affected areas were conducted prior to construction. Careful planning was carried out to minimise the environmental impact as much as possible and measures such as tree transplantation, creation of temporary migration paths and construction of the Winter Olympic Forest Park have been carried out to maintain and protect the local biodiversity as much as possible.
SETTING NEW STANDARDS
Beijing 2022 has sought to push sustainability further than ever before since the city’s successful bid, creating its own sustainability management systems, the first of their kind in China to obtain third-party certification. For the first time in Olympic history, three international standards for sustainability management, environmental management and social responsibility were integrated. Encompassing the entirety of Games preparation, Beijing 2022 hopes to set the standard for future games.
Green standards have been implemented to cover venue construction, plans are in place to ensure minimal carbon footprint, and innovative technology is being utilised to ensure that all Olympic venues achieve 100% renewable energy use. For the first time in history, natural carbon dioxide will also be utilised as refrigerant in venues to cut carbon emissions to nearly zero. The track in the National Sliding Centre was even designed to reduce direct sunlight and preserve heat, thus minimising energy consumption.
Beijing 2022’s commitment to sustainability has permeated every layer of preparation in order to fulfill their promise to host a “green, inclusive, open and clean” Games.
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