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China-Finland Year of Winter Sports concludes with deepened cooperation

Updated: Dec 05,2019 09:23 AM    Xinhua

HELSINKI — The Year of Winter Sports between Finland and China has dropped the curtain, after a high-key closing ceremony was held in Rovaniemi, northern Finland on Dec 3.

A Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan attended the ceremony, along with Finnish politicians including the First Deputy Speaker of Finnish Parliament Tuula Haatainen and Minister of Science and Culture Hanna Kosonen.

On Dec 4, Sun also met Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the latter's official residence in Helsinki.

Another Milestone

Sun mentioned, at the closing ceremony at Lappi Areena in Rovaniemi, that Finland hosted the Summer Olympics in 1952 when the Five-Starred Red Flag, the National Flag of the People's Republic of China, was first hoisted in an Olympic Arena.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Finland in 2017, he together with the Finnish President Niinisto designated the year of 2019 as the China-Finland Year of Winter Sports.

Finland is the first country to agree with China on cooperation in winter sports. Therefore, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture describes the collaboration as "a historic form of cooperation for both countries", according to a news release by the ministry.

"China-Finland Year of Winter Sports 2019 has been a stepping stone for the future, filled with many events and enriched by our cooperation," said Kosonen at the ceremony.

"When planning the calendar of events for this year, we agreed to focus on the following themes: coaching and training skills, sustainable development and accountability, tourism, elite sports, and business cooperation. We are very pleased that we succeeded so well in meeting this goal," noted Kosonen.

New Start

At a joint news conference given in Rovaniemi on Dec 2, the General Administration of Sport of China and the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland listed a good number of remarkable achievements made in the past year and unveiled new plans for increased sports cooperation between the two countries.

During the past year, more than 60 events and exchanges were organized between China and Finland in the fields of cooperation in winter Olympics, mass sports, sports industry, sports culture, sports scientific research, sports medicine, physical education and etc.

In the season 2018-19, nearly 400 Chinese athletes participated in training and tournaments in Finland. Currently, China has hired eight Finnish coaches for the teams of snowboard, Nordic combined, curling and ski jumping.

A cross-country ski resort designed by Finnish experts has been built in Jilin Beishan, Northeast China, and has provided professional athletes and ski enthusiasts with year-round snow training venues. The project was inspired by the ski tunnel in Central Finland, where a popular international Olympic training center is located.

Gao Zhidan, deputy director of the General Administration of Sport of China, said the end of the China-Finland Winter Sports Year means a new start point. The two sides will continue to deepen the cooperation especially when the 2022 Winter Olympics is approaching.