(ATR) Thomas Bach leaves Beijing Monday for an extensive tour of China to witness first-hand the legacies of the Beijing 2008 Games and plans for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Bach and the Chinese president met in Beijing on Saturday (IOC/Greg Martin)
Bach has spent the past week in the Chinese capital for IOC meetings and talks with both the Chinese president and premier. He stayed for the opening two days of the World Athletics Championships, praising Usain Bolt for his thrilling victory in the men's 100m final on Sunday night. The Jamaican defied the odds to beat favorite Justin Gatlin and retain his world title.
On Bach's fact-finding mission around China, taking up most of this week, he will be accompanied by IOC vice president Yu Zaiqing and Chinese NOC head Liu Peng.
“Our hosts wanted to show me the different places in China to get an impression about the development of sport all over the country,” he said in exclusive comments to Around the Rings
“For example in Sechuan we will be visiting a school that was constructed with the assistance of the IOC after the earthquake in 2008,” Bach explained.
“The IOC will continue to support the Olympic education program which has reached more than 400 million children in schools across the country.”
Bach will also be brought up to speed on the vision and planning for the 2022 Winter Olympics, meeting with organisers and stakeholders and visiting a number of the planned venues.
“In Hebei province we will visit the sites for 2022,” he said. “In all the visits we will have a chance to meet the governors and party secretaries of the provinces and in particular the people responsible for the organization of the Games.”
Bach and Xi among IOC members and dignatories at the world athletics championships opening ceremony (Getty)
Bach is expected to shortly appoint the chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission for the 2022 Olympics. If the IOC adopts the same approach to 2022 as it did for the 2018 edition, where evaluation commission chair Gunilla Lindberg became the PyeongChang inspection chief, Alexander Zhukov appears to be in line to take the Beijing monitoring job.
Bach Meets Chinese President
Xi Jinping told Bach in a meeting Saturday that China would “deliver on all its promises” following Beijing’s election as 2022 host at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur last month. Xi said the Winter Games would contribute to the social and economic development of China and its people, insisting that it would “promote snow and ice sports not just to China’s 1.3 billion people but to the whole world.”
Bach thanked Xi for his commitment to Olympic values: “The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 are a great opportunity for Beijing, the region and for China.”
Xi welcomed Bach’s suggestion to bring renowned winter sports experts to China to aid preparations.
Bach thanked the Chinese president for his help in including sport on the political declaration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. If achieved, he said it would be a “milestone” for sport.
The IOC president also offered his sympathies for all those affected by the recent disaster in the Chinese port city of Tianjin.
Reported in Beijing by Mark Bisson
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