'Shadow' program to boost Olympics

Updated 2017-05-06 09:01:12 China Daily

To help make up for its shortfall in winter sports know-how ahead of the Beijing 2022 Olympics, China has been borrowing expertise from around the world, sending staff members to experience various aspects of major international events.

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games sent 81 people during the 2016-17 winter season to the host cities of big tournaments, including the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They were sent to gain insights into 24 practical aspects, ranging from competition organization to venue operation, the committee said on Friday.

The effort was part of the International Olympic Committee's knowledge-transfer Observer Program, which invites future Olympic organizers to observe firsthand the hosting practices for current and upcoming events.

Supported by governing bodies such as the International Ski Federation, Beijing also sent 50 homegrown specialists, including 2022 event managers, over the past winter to multiple world championships in Europe to follow the work of their foreign counterparts through an initiative called a "shadowing program".

Yan Cheng, human resources director of the Beijing organizing committee, hailed the field study as an essential resource for Beijing to build an international and professional team for the 2022 Olympics.

"Practical learning overseas provided us access to the scop e, scale and complexity of running Olympic Games, while the knowledge transferred matters a lot for improving our own expertise in every aspect regarding the delivery of an extraordinary event," he said at an experience-sharing symposium on Friday.

China is short of operational and technical professionals as well as venue construction expertise in hosting winter sports event.

For instance, the country had never built a bobsleigh track until a project for the sport was approved for northwestern Beijing's Yanqing county for 2022. And an international design contest for Beijing 2022's only permanent venue, the National Speed Skating Oval, was won by international architect Populous due to domestic bidders' lack of experience.

Gui Lin, an official from Beijing 2022's department of planning, construction and sustainability, said a trip to Koenigssee, Germany, to observe operation of one of the world's oldest bobsleigh tracks was invaluable.

"The observation shed light on designing such facilities of our own in Yanqing in terms of track layout, competition zone and broadcasting arrangement," said Gui, who visited Koenigssee in February. The 2017 Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships were held there during Gui's stay.

Gui's colleague Liu Haodong stressed that practical experience gained in real events makes the staff ready for potential challenges in the future.

"The observation helps us to prepare for any possible situations. For example, we need to prepare more power supplies in Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, since operation of snow events needs abundant electricity," said Liu, who visited the St. Moritz resort in Switzerland during the World Ski Championships in February.

Meanwhile, the organizing committee has hired 10 foreign experts, such as Bernhard Russi, chairman of the International Ski Federation's Alpine Committee, to advise it on athletic organization, venue design, snow making and slope grooming.

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