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One year after the opening of the Beijing 2022: Unique and unforgettable

Pub Date:2023-02-03 16:35 Source:China Daily

Editor's Note: Hailed as extraordinary and excellent by the International Olympic Committee, Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics left indelible memories for all Chinese people and the global sports community. A year after the opening of the Games, some shining moments still feel inspiring and heartwarming as if just happened yesterday.

1. A host of talent

Despite being a relative newcomer to winter sports, China, as the host nation of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, impressed the world by bagging its best ever haul of 15 medals, including nine golds, to finish third in the overall standings — the highest since the country's Winter Games debut in 1980 at Lake Placid, New York.

Sensational freestyle skiing champion Gu Ailing and snowboarding gold medalist Su Yiming were among a group of young Chinese winter sports stars who made global headlines and became fan favorites at Beijing 2022. Their stunning skills on ice and snow, as well as the passion and energy that the young generation of Chinese winter sports aces showed at the Olympics, encouraged more people to embrace ice and snow sports.

2. A real crowd pleaser

The popularity of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is evidenced by the huge global broadcast audience. According to independent research conducted on behalf of the IOC, the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games reached 2.01 billion people worldwide, which made it the most digitally engaged Olympic Winter Games in history. Viewers watched a total of 713 billion minutes of the Games coverage through the channels of Olympic media rights partners, and Olympic social media also achieved 3.2 billion engagements and attracted more than 11 million new followers across various platforms. According to the data, about 57 percent of teenagers will watch more Olympic Games coverage in the coming years.

3. A fairer gender balance

With women accounting for 45 percent of the athletes, Beijing 2022 was the most gender-balanced Olympic Winter Games in history. It featured the highest ever number of women's events with 46 out of a total of 109. Meanwhile, the Beijing 2022 organizing committee itself was also a great example of gender balance. Among the 19 members of the organizing committee's athletes' commission, 14 were women, as were seven out of the 11 event managers. The organizing committee ensured that females accounted for 40 percent of its staff, and also a half of Games' volunteers were also female.

4. Green Games

With low-carbon venues, clean-energy transport, water-efficient artificial snow production and the reuse of key sites, the Beijing Winter Olympics proved "the greenest Games" ever. As an example, clean energy vehicles accounted for 84.9 percent of the total vehicles used during the Games, which included more than 1,000 hydrogen-fueled cars. Among the 13 venues at the Games' Beijing competition zone, 11 were reused from the 2008 Summer Olympics in a bid to cut emissions, reduce environmental impact, and minimize the consumption of water, energy and materials. All competition venues were, and continue to be, powered 100 percent by green electricity generated from renewable sources.

5. An Olympic legacy

The extraordinary Beijing Winter Olympics left a rich legacy to fuel rapid winter sports growth in the host nation. According to China's General Administration of Sport, more than 346 million Chinese took part in winter sports and related activities at least once before the Games began.

Moreover, most of the Beijing 2022 competition venues, such as the "Ice Cube" and the Shougang Big Air slope, opened to the public following the Games. The venues have become popular destinations for the first-class services and events they offer.

6. Winter warmth

Beijing Winter Olympics had no shortage of touching stories of friendships among athletes from around the world. One of the best examples was the dramatic conclusion to the women's aerials freestyle skiing competition in Zhangjiakou on Feb 14. After China's Xu Mengtao won gold, American fourth-placed finisher Ashley Caldwell gave Xu a huge hug and roared congratulations to her friend. The moment touched the hearts of millions of Chinese, who heaped praise on both competitors on social media.

Days earlier, after the United States beat China 7-5 in a mixed doubles curling match on Feb 5, Fan Suyuan and Ling Zhi from Team China presented their US rivals, Christopher Plys and Vicky Persinger, with a set of commemorative pins featuring Games mascot Bing Dwen Dwen. The four competitors posed for the cameras together while showing off the gifts. The American duo then posted the photos on social media, saying they were "honored to receive these beautiful Beijing 2022 pin sets in a wonderful display of sportsmanship by our Chinese counterparts".

7. Playing it safe

To ensure the safety of all participants and cope with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing Winter Olympics staged the Games under a "closed loop" management system. It proved to be a flexible and efficient way of ensuring the safe delivery of the event.

All key participants, including athletes, coaches and organizers, stayed and traveled inside the closed loop with daily COVID-19 testing, and were separated from local communities, as well as only using designated transportation services. Thanks to the strict operation of this system, COVID-19 cases were kept under control throughout the Games, with no infections leaked out of the loop.

8. Passing the torch

Beijing 2022 was the platform where some ice and snow legends chose to take their final bow. Among them was American snowboarding superstar Shaun White. Although the 35-year-old failed to earn a medal at Beijing 2022, the three-time winter Olympic champion still earned a deafening cheer after finishing fourth in the men's snowboard half-pipe final, which marked the end of a long and storied career.

The Beijing Games also became the last Olympics for Japanese figure skating legend Yuzuru Hanyu (pictured). The two-time Olympic champion was unable to win his third Olympic gold medal in Beijing, finishing fourth in the men's singles skating. However, the 28-year-old still enjoyed huge popularity during the Games. In July 2022, Hanyu announced his retirement from competitive figure skating. "I'll no longer be compared with other skaters as a competitor. I have no sadness," Hanyu said.

9. For the record

The great organization and top-class venues at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics provided the athletes with the perfect conditions to make history. A total of two world and 17 Olympic records were broken.

Among the record-breakers was Dutch skater Suzanne Schulting, who won gold and became the undisputed queen of 1,000m short-track speed skating in Beijing. The 24-year-old set a new all-time record of 1 min 26.514 sec in her quarterfinal heat en route to earning her second Olympic gold.

In speed skating, Dutch legend Ireen Wust (pictured) glided into the record books with a victory in the 1,500 meters, becoming the first athlete — woman or man, winter or summer — to claim individual gold medals at five different Olympics.

10. Cultural phenomenon

Bing Dwen Dwen, the official mascot of the Beijing Winter Olympics, enjoyed huge popularity at the Games. Participants from around the globe were captivated by the cuddly panda. The craze for the mascot kicked off a media, and social media, frenzy. With fans lining up for hours to get their hands on toys of the adorable companion, despite their initial scarcity, as of December, more than 5.5 million Bing Dwen Dwen products have been sold.

It wasn't only the mascot that proved popular with foreign athletes and those following them online, but also Chinese traditional cultural activities and local cuisine. A series of cultural experience activities, such as paper-cutting and calligraphy-writing, were offered to the athletes during the Games, which were staged during the Spring Festival. The athlete villages and media centers also provided participants with traditional Chinese cuisine, with Beijing roast duck among the favorite dishes.


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