Guo and Zhukov (Getty)
(ATR) The IOC says Beijing is off to a “fast start” following the first project review to assess early preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
An IOC delegation led by coordination commission chair Alexander Zhukov held discussions with the Beijing 2022 organising committee chaired by Guo Jinlong on Thursday.
“I have been in your shoes. I know the challenges that you will face,” said Zhukov, who chaired the supervisory board for the Sochi 2014 Olympics and IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2022 Olympics.
“I do not have to tell you that we are at the beginning of a long road together. I have no doubt that the final destination will be fantastic Winter Games that will leave a great legacy for Beijing and China,” added Zhukov, who also heads the Russian NOC.
In the day-long session, Beijing 2022 pledged to work closely with the IOC, winter sports federations and experts to deliver their hugely ambitious bid promise of inspiring 300 million people to take up winter sports in the next six years.
The IOC was encouraged that a solid foundation is in place, harnessing the “significant experience” of officials involved in the Beijing 2008 Games; the Chinese capital is the first city to be awarded both Summer and Winter Olympics. Guo was executive chairman of the Beijing 2008 organising committee.
The IOC highlighted the potential for the growth of winter sport in China by the latest figures for snow season visitors in the Zhangjiakou Zone, which will host several snow sports events in 2022. More than two million visitors came to Zhangjiakou this winter - double the figure from just three years ago, the IOC said.
The Beijing 2022 team outlined their strategy to fulfil their legacy goal of developing ice sport throughout the city and increasing winter sports participation. The project review also focused on five other key areas in the initial stage of Games preparations: governance, sport, commercial partnerships, communications, and venues and infrastructure.
Beijing 2022 executive vice president Zhang Jiandong told the IOC: “We hope you will share your expertise with us, help us identify problems and give us suggestions, so as to keep our preparatory work on the right track all the time.”
At the end of the project review, the organizing committee’s vice president Yang Shu’an said the IOC had gained a comprehensive and clearer idea of Beijing’s preparatory work "while we have also developed a more accurate and clearer understanding of the preparation and delivery of the Olympic Games”.
Last month, Zhukov was appointed to lead the IOC's 2022 Olympic inspection team amid the fallout from the Russian doping scandal. He is also responsible for leading Russia’s efforts to revamp its corruption-hit anti-doping system and achieve compliance with IAAF and WADA regulations. The IAAF is set to decide in May whether to lift its suspension on Russia to allow it to compete at the Rio Games.
IOC president Thomas Bach shrugged off the controversial appointment following an executive board meeting in Lausanne two weeks ago.
Asked what message it sent out to assign Zhukov to head the Beijing 2022 watchdog when Russia was under investigation for doping, he said: "I would not know that the Russian Olympic Committee or Mr Zhukov is under any kind of suspicion or investigation.”
Reported by Mark Bisson
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