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  • Beijing CoComm Promotes "Intelligent Games"


    (ATR) The Coordination Commission for the Beijing 2022 Olympics says organizers are “making use of every resource” and construction is not a concern.

    Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. leads a press conference in Beijing (IOC)
    Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., Beijing 2022 CoComm chair, told reporters following the third coordination commission meeting that organizers are “extremely confident in the work that is being done”.

    Samaranch said that positive legacies from the Beijing 2008 Olympics are being revitalized for the 2022 Winter Olympics plan, and that the IOC is “not here to teach lessons,” to a capable organizing team.

    “We have to produce the most intelligent games ever,” Samaranch said “It is not about saving money, it is about saving everything. So far I can tell you these are very intelligent Games.”

    The Beijing Period 

    Zhang Jiandong, Executive Vice President of Beijing 2022 said that organization is now in the “Beijing Period” and that construction is expected to be finished by the end of 2019 to prepare for the first test events. Alpine skiing will hold the first venue test for Beijing 2022 with a World Cup stop in February 2020.

    Beijing 2022’s headquarters are located at an old industrial park once owned by the Shougang group. A renovated steel plan now serves as the organizing committee headquarters, and Big Air events will be held in Shougang.

    “The Organizing Committee is now more focused than ever on the goal of delivering a ‘fantastic, extraordinary and excellent’ Winter Games which are ‘green, inclusive, open and clean’,” Zhang said. “The central government of China attaches great importance to the preparations for Beijing 2022, while the Beijing municipal government and Hebei provincial government treat the Games as a top priority in their work.”

    Zhang Jiandong, left, answering questions from reporters (IOC)
    To prepare many of the winter sports venues in Zhangjiakou and Yanqing, Beijing 2022 organizers will rely on artificial snow. Zhang said that to meet international standards most winter venues around the world “[cannot] be formed naturally”. So, organizers expected to use ratification snow, and Zhang says China is preparing accordingly to ensure environmental sustainability.

    “From the very beginning [the alpine venue] was designed we paid attention to conserving water and optimizing the use of water,” Zhang said. “Not too much water is used in snowmaking, so this will not affect the use of water by the local residents.”

    IOC Sets Limits on Human Rights Campaign

    In an interview with the AP following the CoComm, Samaranch said that the IOC would not be addressing increasing concerns for human rights in the Western province of Xinjiang.

    Samaranch said the IOC would not pressure Chinese officials on reported reeducation camps designed to intern the Uighur minority in the region. He said that the IOC can only protect human rights “in the context of the Olympic Games”.

    “We cannot go further than that,” Samaranch said in the interview. “Not here, not anywhere else. If we would start doing that we would be in serious trouble because there is always someone that doesn’t like something that the other did. It’s a very fine line and a very complex issue.”

    A recent report by Human Rights Watch called the detention centers “mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life,” by the Chinese government.

    Sophie Richardson, the China Director at Human Rights Watch, told Around the Rings that it was "predictable," the IOC would avoid discussing the topic or separate it from the 2022 preparations.

    "I guess we are about to find out where the IOC won't and will hold Games," Richardson said. "Will it actually go ahead and host Games in a country that is arbitrarily detaining massive numbers of particular ethnic minorities? There is a certain irony that senior IOC officials are allowed in the country to inspect the Olympics, at a time when the UN High Commissioner Commissioner for Human Rights is calling for access to Xinjiang."

    Richardson said that many of the security practices employed in China today originate from the build up ahead of the 2008 Games, that "never got rolled back".

    "In fact [the security apparatus] has deepened and broadened," Richardson said. "Surely the IOC is aware that Beijing has gone 'higher, faster, and stronger' with repression, especially in Xinjang since the 2008 Games, and the IOC will have to answer for its awarding of the 2022 Games."

    China’s human rights and environmental records were flagged by activists as concerns during Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beijing narrowly won the right to host the Games in a closer than expected race against Almaty, Kazkahstan. 

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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