A guide describes a model of the National Speed Skating Oval, dubbed the Ice Ribbon, at a project construction display in April. The venue is being built in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Ma Zhijiang/For China Daily)
Beijing has stepped up its preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games with all the competition venues to be completed and mascots unveiled next year.
Though most of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics venues are idle in winter, a construction site on the north end of the Olympic Park is bustling with workers and machines busy preparing a large site for the new National Speed Skating Oval, a permanent venue that will be used for the 2022 Winter Games.
Soon, the foundation will be laid and the structure will begin to rise at the venue, dubbed the Ice Ribbon for its appearance. It will be completed by the end of 2019 for speed skating test events in 2020, according to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"The construction has gotten off to a flying start and is smoothly underway. We believe all the venues will be delivered on schedule," said Liu Yumin, executive deputy director of the planning, construction and sustainability development department of the organizing committee.
The 2022 Winter Olympics will use 26 competition and noncompetition venues located across three zones in downtown Beijing, northwestern Yanqing district and co-host city Zhangjiakou in Hebei province.
The refurbishing of existing venues including the National Aquatics Center and the Wukesong Arena in Beijing－both legacies of the 2008 Summer Games－will begin this year, with completion scheduled for next year. Other venues to be built include the Alpine skiing courses and sliding center for sports like bobsled in Yanqing as well as the freestyle skiing and biathlon venues in Zhangjiakou.
Citing the example of the Wukesong Arena, built for basketball competition in the 2008 Games, Liu stressed that the remodeling of existing facilities and the design of new venues have taken post-2022 uses into full account.
"Preconstruction designs based on sustainability will make for an easier transition to the venues' commercial operation after the event," he said.
Wukesong Arena, with a cooling system installed underground, will be able to shift between a hardwood court and a standard ice hockey rink in six hours, while the new speed skating oval will be able to serve amateur skaters in all seasons after 2022 with a 10,000-square-meter public rink.
The Beijing 2022 organizing committee also is expanding its efforts to promote the Games, following the launch of the official Beijing 2022 emblems in December. It will soon kick off an open contest for designs of the official mascot for the Games and will unveil the final design in early 2019, said Chang Yu, director of the media and communication department.
In the Olympic tradition, Beijing will put on an eight-minute art performance guided by renowned movie director Zhang Yimou during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea on Feb 25.
Zhang, who was behind the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics, has prepared a year for the show with his team.
"The main theme of the show is to welcome international visitors to Beijing by 2022, and we have high expectations that it will appeal greatly to the world," Chang said.