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China Aims to Make Winter Sports Popular with Olympics


School children learning to ski take to the hills at the Vanke Shijinglong Ski Resort in Yanqing outside of Beijing, China on December. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
China Aims to Make Winter Sports Popular with Olympics
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With the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, the ruling Communist Party hopes to popularize winter sports as exercise and to make money. The Games will take place from February 4 to 20.

Many people in Beijing enjoy the winter sport of ice skating. But winter sports are new to most Chinese people. Now, young Chinese are considering winter sports like hockey and skiing.

The government and some companies have built new structures for winter sports in many places. Public schools are adding winter sports. And villages near mountains where skiing is possible are building hotels and services for visitors.

Mark Dreyer wrote the book Sporting Superpower: An Insider’s View on China’s Quest to Be the Best. Dreyer said the effort to hold the Winter Olympics has pushed the development of winter sports.

“We’ve also seen a more organic push from China’s middle class, recognizing the value of sports not just for their children, but for themselves,” Dreyer said.

COVID in China

The Winter Olympic Games will take place without foreign visitors or normal observers. China’s “zero tolerance” plan is meant to prevent the coronavirus from spreading within the country. Sport competitors, reporters and officials are required to stay within special areas that keep them away from the Chinese public.

About 106 of the 3,695 people who arrived from foreign countries tested positive for the virus. Two are competitors or team officials.

Beijing officials have increased measures to prevent the spread of the virus in recent months. It ordered testing of 2 million people in one Beijing neighborhood after cases were reported there. Some families are not permitted to leave their homes.

A child plays ice hockey near the Beijing Olympics Tower in Beijing, China January 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A child plays ice hockey near the Beijing Olympics Tower in Beijing, China January 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Economic possibilities

Foreign sports companies would like to make money in China. However, a ban on most foreigners has been a barrier to business development.

Jeffrey Potter is president of Proskatecorner Pte. Ltd. The company works in China with the American hockey equipment maker True. He said the Olympics would have made sports goods more popular if not for the coronavirus.

Not far from Beijing is a winter sports center called Vanke Shijinglong Ski Resort. Liu Yingkai leads marketing efforts to bring attention to the vacation center.

Liu said visitors to the resort have risen by 15 to 20 percent a year since 2015 when Beijing and neighboring Zhangjiakou were chosen to hold this year’s Winter Games. Liu added the numbers were up 40 percent last year, even with the pandemic.

Li Sen is the director of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee’s General Planning Department. Li said more than 450 ice rinks and 300 snow resorts have been built across China since 2015 although some have closed at times during the pandemic.

Skiing and other winter sports have helped villages near resorts.

“For tourists to eat, there must be restaurants around,” noted Jiang Xinwei. He works for Analysys International, a research company in Beijing.

School children warm up before skiing at the Vanke Shijinglong Ski Resort in Yanqing outside of Beijing, China, on December 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
School children warm up before skiing at the Vanke Shijinglong Ski Resort in Yanqing outside of Beijing, China, on December 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Personal reports

Long Xuelian is a visitor at the Vanke Shijinglong Ski Resort. She said she fell in love with skiing her first time although she fell a lot.

“More and more friends of mine know how to ski,” Long told The Associated Press.

Zhang Xiaodong grew up in Zhangjiakou, but never learned to ski. He is learning the sport as an adult. Zhang said, “I have to learn how to ski so when I bring my kid here next time, I’ll know how to teach my kid.”

I’m Jill Robbins.

Gregory Stachel adapted this Associated Press story for VOA Learning English.

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Words in This Story

organic – adj. happening or developing in a slow and natural way

tolerance –n. the ability or willingness to accept something

positive – adj. showing the presence of a particular germ, condition, or substance

rink – n. an often enclosed area that has a special surface of ice or smooth pavement and that is used for skating

ski – v. to move or glide on skis over snow or water

tourist – n. a person who travels to a place for pleasure

kid – n. a young son or daughter

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