Winters Games 'sure to attract' Canadian fans

Updated: 2015-04-09 04:04

By Wang Ru(China Daily Canada)

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Winters Games 'sure to attract' Canadian fans

Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton, Canada said he believed a huge number of Canadians would come to Beijing to watch the Winter Olympics if the city.[Photo by Wang Ru / China Daily]

If Beijing wins the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, you can bet on the city being swamped with sports-mad Canadians.

That was the message from Mayor of Edmonton Don Iveson last week when he visited Beijing as part of a delegation to promote his city, the capital of Alberta.

"I think there would be huge numbers of Canadians who would want to come and see the Winter Olympics here and to experience China," he told China Daily.

Canada has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, Vancouver in 2010 and Calgary in 1988, and it has been reported that a Canadian company specializing in ski slope and resort technologies has teamed up with Zhangjiakou, Beijing's potential co-host, to design venues and support facilities for winter sports.

"Canadians love winter sports and the country has successful experiences in hosting the Games," said Yuan Zhanling, the economic and commercial counselor for the Chinese embassy in Canada since the 1980s. "China and Canada will collaborate more in this field."

The delegation, which also visited Harbin, in northeast Heilongjiang province, and the east coast city of Qingdao, was on a mission to find collaboration opportunities in petrochemical technologies, waste management, agricultural technology, education and tourism.

A meeting was also held with Chinese airline officials to discuss opening direct airlines, cargo and passenger, between China and Edmonton. New routes between Beijing and Montreal and Calgary, another major city in Alberta, were announced in November.

"The Winter Olympics is a great tourism opportunity to develop flights we are trying to build," Iveson said.

The mayor said he welcomed Chinese investment in infrastructure construction and petrochemical industries in Edmonton, the key hub for Canada's pipelines and highways.

"Edmonton has leading expertise and technologies in waste management, such as garbage recycling, and energy-efficient building to provide to China's urbanization, which has clear goals to curb air pollution," he said, adding that many mayors in China are interested in the technologies and that a deal will be announced shortly.

Sino-Canada Resources Recovery Technology, a joint venture based in Beijing's Haidian district, already links his city and China in the field.

Edmonton, home to the University of Alberta, has been developing its education and cultural exchanges, and Iveson, whose wife is from Hong Kong, said: "People may not know that Edmonton has one of the best Mandarin teaching systems in the world outside China. It is called the Edmonton Mandarin Bilingual Education Program in our public schools and has enrolled about 2,000 students."

Iveson stopped in Harbin on March 30 to meet with officials from the city government and help celebrate the 30th anniversary of Edmonton's twinning with the city. Both cities named a road after each other, with Edmonton Road in Harbin christened before China prohibited authorities from giving streets the names of foreign cities.

Edmonton and Harbin both have a long tradition of winter sports and leisure activities, and each boasts a world-famous ice carving festival.

"Harbin was a wonderful host and we discussed a number of cultural and economic exchange opportunities," Iveson said, adding that he will visit the winter festival in Harbin within the next two years.

On April 4, the delegation visited Qingdao, in Shandong province, and signed a memorandum of understanding with the city government concerning an economic partnership,

According to the memorandum, the two cities will cooperate on developing bilateral trade and business, as well as exchanges of information and preferential policies for investment and trade. Particular focus will be placed on energy, tourism, education and culture.

Since being elected as the 35th mayor of Edmonton in 2013, Iveson has set his sights on transforming the city into a highly livable, uplifting and globally competitive city.

He said Edmonton was least affected in Alberta by the oil price plunge. "If fact, we are still creating jobs," he added. "We welcome people from around the world, including China, to work and live in Edmonton."

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