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  • IOC President Samaranch Remembered in Beijing


    Juan Antonio Samaranch. (ATR)
    (ATR) The fourth visit of the IOC Coordination Commission for Beijing 2022 opens on a significant day. July 17 marked the 99th anniversary of the birth of Juan Antonio Samaranch Torelló, IOC President from 1980 to 2001, admired in China.

    Adding to the symbolism: the IOC leader’s son, Juan Antonio Samaranch Salisachs, leads the IOC commission and is an IOC vice president.

    He interrupted a welcome dinner at the end of the first day of work for the commission to speak to Around The Rings about this latest visit to Beijing.

    "The memory of my father has been remembered ," he told ATR.

    In particular, the elder Samaranch, who died in 2010, is revered in China for bringing the 2008 Summer Olympics to Beijing. He presided over the election of the 2008 host city in 2001, one of his final duties before retiring as president.

    Last December, China paid a posthumous tribute to the President of the IOC by distinguishing him from the 10 foreign personalities that most contributed to the process of reforms and opening of the Asian nation. During his mandate Samaranch visited China 29 times.

    In May, a Chinese version of Samaranch's biography was presented in Beijing. A Foundation that bears his name, created in 2012, has served "to maintain and promote the legacy of his relationship with China," Samaranch Salisachs said.

    In Taijan there is a museum dedicated to his father created by IOC member C.K. Wu.

    Samaranch Jr. says that he is very satisfied with the progress in the preparation of the Games and that the venue construction is going according to plan. Some work is even ahead of schedule he says.

    The commission
    Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC vice president and member in Spain (ATR)
    first visited ski venues in Zhangjiakou and Chongli in Hebei province, about a four-hour drive north of China's capital.

    The Halfpipe, Slopestyle and Parallel Giant Slalom courses at Genting Snow Park are completed and have already hosted FIS Alpine Ski World Cup events. The National Ski Jumping, Cross-Country Center and National Biathlon Center are still under construction.

    The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2022 will be held in February, coinciding with the Chinese New Year, the most important festival in China.

    Samaranch says a priority for China in hosting the Games is to make 300 million people familiar with winter sports, which he says it is well on track to doing.

    In 2018, the Zhangjiakou zone welcomed seven percent more tourists, while the Chongli ski resorts sold 24 percent more lift tickets than the previous season.

    The number of Chinese athletes training for Beijing 2022 with the Chinese national team has also risen to 3,257, which is a substantial increase from 345 in 2014.

    “These Olympic Winter Games will revolutionize winter sports” Samaranch predicts.

    This visit of the Coordination Commission takes place after a decision to use natural CO2 refrigeration systems in most of the Beijing 2022 ice venues. A decrease in the overall carbon footprint of Beijing 2022 is supposed to be the result.

    This will be the first time the technology is used in China and at the Olympic Games.

    “This is a landmark decision which could potentially help address the issue of climate change, both in China and even globally,” said Samaranch. “We are pleased to see that the IOC’s close collaboration with Beijing 2022 has resulted in such an important outcome.”

    Reported by Miguel Hernandez.

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