China can arrange an open and safe Winter Olympics: Veikko Halonen

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By Zhang Jinruo, People’s Daily

“China has shown the way how to handle an epidemic. Tight rules for daily life have been proved the right strategy to ensure a quick comeback to normal social and economic life in China. Based on the experiences, China will arrange an open and safe Winter Olympics.” Veikko Halonen, the CEO of Vuokatti Olympic Training Center told People’s Daily in a recent written interview.

Halonen was very impressed by Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games. “I have never seen such solid and coherent will and effort to organize a sport event. I still remember the scene when Finnish Olympic team came back home from Beijing in 2008. They praised Beijing Olympics as one of the best games in Olympic history”. From his point of view, with great efforts and enthusiasm, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will again be “extraordinary and excellent”. “It seems that the coming Olympics are an event of whole people, not only an issue of limited number of athletes”, he added.

Beijing 2022 is committed to its mission of hosting “green, inclusive, open and clean” Olympic Winter Games. The Organising Committee’s initiatives include sustainable management of venues, low carbon programmes and sustainable sourcing. Halonen appreciated China’s efforts on ecological protection and stressed that sustainability is one of the most important issues all over the world.

Halonen has visited the venues and stadiums used at Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Now China has transformed the National Aquatics Centre, colloquially known as the “Water Cube”, into an “Ice Cube” for the coming Olympic Games. Wukesong Sports Centre, a former stadium for basketball, has been transformed into a stadium for ice hockey. It is the first venue in China which can be used for the two professional sports events after simple transformation. “I was very impressed when I had the chance to see how Beijing is reconstructing the previous steel factory, Shougang Park site, into a place of sports and leisure.” He stressed that all these changes manifest China’s implementation of the green Olympics and its responsibility for environmental protection.

Beijing 2022’s vision of giving 300 million people in China access to winter sports has already been visible. Halonen shared a similar period of history in Finland with People’s Daily: “50 years ago, Finland decided to encourage its people to go in for winter sports. We announced a campaign “Kansanhiihto” (‘Nation’s ski’ in English). That campaign was going on for years, and people were so proud if they got many ‘Nation’s ski’ textile marks in his/her ski jacket.” He believes that China’s vision of promoting 300 million people to be winter sports lovers will certainly be realized, and it will also facilitate the cooperation between Finland and China extending from Olympic games to mass sports, sports industry and other fields.

The cooperation between Finland and China in fields of winter sport games is getting much closer in recent years. During the China Finland Year of Winter Sports in 2019, the two countries held more than 60 celebrating events, boosting the development speed of winter sports industry in both countries. Halonen said it was great experience to take part in these events.

Vuokatti Sport Olympic Training Center lies in the northern part of Finland, attracting lots of Chinese athletes coming for competing and training every year. Halonen has been personally following the training of Chinese athletes and para-athletes: “Chinese teams are well-organized, and they have clear rules of training and daily programs. I am sure that China will improve its global status in winter sports. ”

This year, Chinese Lunar New Year began on February 12. Halonen shared a photo of four bottles of soy sauces made in China on his Facebook account that day. As a food and cooking lover, he was very happy to receive the gift form his Chinese colleague. “In recent years, my Chinese friends and colleagues have briefed me on many Chinese traditions and conventions. China, Chinese athletes and Chinese sports organization leaders have opened a wonderful window for me to the new culture.” He believed that the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will also be a precious chance for the world to learn more about China, and “the mutual trust and cooperation between Finland and China will surely continue to rise in sports fields.”

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