2008 Olympics facilities fit for Winter Games

Updated: 2014-08-04 05:54

By ZHENG JINRAN (China Daily)

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Sports venues that were built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics are in good condition and could be used for the 2022 Winter Olympics, a way to cut expenses should the Chinese capital host the event, officials and experts said.

The venues have been well-cared for, and have seen a lot of use and wide popularity with visitors, said Jiang Xiaoyu, vice-chairman of the Beijing Olympic City Development Association.

China used 11 permanent venues for the 2008 Olympic Games. Four are in universities and two are used for professional training in biking and shooting. The five others are new structures, including the National Stadium, commonly known as the Bird’s Nest, and the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube.

The university and training facilities have seen regular use by students, residents and professional athletes, while the others have become popular locations for commercial performances, Jiang said.

Of the five venues managed by companies, the Wukesong Indoor Stadium, the basketball stadium in the 2008 Olympic Games, made a strong transition from Olympics venue to private enterprise.

Wang Shuxia, manager of the company that runs the stadium, said the stadium got title sponsorship in 2011. Then the managing company cooperated with a top foreign venue operator to change the profit model from relying on site rental to events and other businesses that require high-quality facilities.

In 2013, the stadium hosted 131 sports and entertainment events, attracting more than 1 million visitors, she said.

The Bird’s Nest also holds various activities such as three months of ice sports in winter.

Some pictures of shabby and deserted venues used in the Beijing Olympic Games have been exposed during the past few years. Jiang said they were all temporary venues, which were designed to be demolished after the games.

“Some of them remained because management did not keep up with the removal project,” he said, adding that the reuse of the areas where venues are located may involve many companies or departments, and therefore take time to complete.

For the bid for the Winter Olympic Games of 2022, Jiang said the country could use its existing legacy from 2008.

The scale of the Winter Olympics is much smaller than the Summer Games, making it possible to have the games in a frugal and sustainable style, said Wei Jizhong, former secretary-general of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

The bidding committee said new venues to be built would include a stadium with a long-distance speed skating rink in Beijing, and ski slopes for alpine skiing, bobsledding and skeleton events in Beijing’s Yanqing county. Other ski events would be held in Chongli county in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, with refurbished facilities in four major ski resorts.