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Capital beefs up promotion of sports ahead of Olympics

Xin Wen
Updated: Aug 19,2021 09:26 AM    China Daily

Authorities in Beijing say they will work hard to promote sports, exercise, and fitness among residents as the 2022 Winter Olympics approach.

At a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress late last month, Zhao Wen, director of the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau, said the bureau had mapped out a plan last year to build more public sports facilities from the village to the municipal level. Since 2016, athletic sites in the capital's older urban residential communities had been upgraded, and 150 kilometers of fitness trails had been built.

By the end of last year, the number of Beijing residents participating in physical exercise at least once a week had reached 15.2 million, accounting for around 70 percent of the city's permanent population. At the same time, the number of people in the capital who exercised regularly increased to 10.8 million, roughly half the city's population, the bureau said.

Legislators have planned for existing sports venues at schools and institutions to open to the public in an effective and orderly manner after years of limited opening hours.

Chen Yong, a member of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, said that some swimming pools open to the public have such restricted opening times that "when you go to work, it's open, and when you leave work, it's closed".

Liu Yuhui, director of the Beijing Municipal Education Commission, acknowledged that such problems have existed at the capital's schools for a long time, but said that some progress has been made.

For example, as required by the sports bureau, education authorities in the capital issued regulations last year that permit school sports venues to be prioritized for use by teenagers and community residents on holidays and weekends.

Liu said sports sites were lacking in Beijing's secondary and primary schools, and that those in the city's historic hutong neighborhoods lacked even basic playgrounds.

Zhao said that to cope with the predicament, the city aimed to separate athletic venues from schools' teaching and office buildings.

"That way, when schools have no classes and office workers are off duty, the use of venues can be effectively ensured when safety guarantees are provided," Zhao said.

With the Olympics about six months away, legislators in Beijing have also called on authorities to work hard to drum up public enthusiasm for winter sports throughout the city and ensure that residents enjoy a lasting legacy from the Games.

Responding to inquiries from legislators, Zhang Jiandong, vice-mayor of Beijing and executive vice-president of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics organizing committee, said that after thorough consideration of the potential for the yearlong use of winter sports competition venues in the capital's northwestern Yanqing district, an outdoor training center will be set up to promote the development of trail running, hiking and mountain biking.

Zhang said the joint development of winter sports venues for the Games is being actively promoted in downtown Beijing, Yanqing and in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province — a co-host of the games — to drive development in the surrounding area.