Kuala Lumpur, July 29 (IANS) Air quality and snow conditions are regarded as two of the major challenges for Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. But the city’s bid officials gave an answer and solution to all the concerns, promising clean air and enough snow.
“We will improve the air quality not only for the Games but also for the demand of our people. No matter whether we win the bid or not, we will take efforts to improve the air quality,” Shen Xue, Vancouver Olympic gold medallist and ambassador for the Beijing 2022 bid, said on Tuesday, reports Xinhua.
In an effort to tackle air pollution, Beijing upgraded its coal-fired heating system in urban areas to natural gas heating system and closed down heavy polluting plants. Neighbouring city Tianjin and provinces including Hebei adopted similar measures to give Beijing a hand.
“We can feel since last year the great improvement of the air quality in Beijing,” said Zhao Hongbo, Shen’s husband who is also an Olympic champion and Beijing’s bidding ambassador.
“Technically the pollution has been reduced and controlled. We have seven more years to go and it will be sunshine and white cloud,” said Xu Jicheng, deputy director of press and communications department of Beijing 2022.
“Our mountain venues, the air quality there is very high. When we talk about fresh air in China, we are talking about Qingdao, the city hosting sailing in 2008 Olympics and the mountain area in Zhangjiakou and Yanqing, they are Qingdao deep in the mountain. So they have already reached the Olympic standard, and even better. I have the confidence.”
Lack of natural snow was considered as another disadvantage for Beijing. But the climate conditions in Zhangjiakou’s Chongli county, where cross country, freestyle and other skiing events will be held if Beijing wins the bid, won’t be a concern.
“The last snow season in the Chongli resort, the snowfall was 70 cm, so that’s enough for Winter Olympics. Chongli is one of the earliest snowfall areas in East Asia. The snow started in late October, and the snow quality there is one of the best in the world,” said Xu.
Beijing 2022 promised a high-speed railway traffic which would take the athletes less than 70 minutes to travel from Beijing Olympic Village to Chongli Olympic Village.
“Exactly 52.5 minutes is the travel time from Beijing to the competition venue. Of course it will take time to get on and off the train. During the game period, the train will be direct and if we count in the travel time from the Olympic village to the station, the overall time will be 70 minutes, village to village,” said Wang Xiaotao, Deputy Director of National Development and Reform Committee.
At the same time, Beijing has a surprising gift for journalists.
“During the games, the train will not only be a transportation vehicle, but also an office for journalists. You will find the mobile offices for the journalists, you can write your stories, watch all the games and have interviews,” said Wang Hui, Director of the Press and Communications Department of Beijing 2022.