Players of Beijing Arcfox and China Ice Sport College meet before a men's ice hockey test event for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the Wukesong Sports Center in Beijing, Nov 9, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
Beijing is ready for the Winter Olympics and facilities are "fantastic", according to Beijing 2022's senior consultant, Anthony Edgar.
Edgar, the former head of media operations of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has traveled to Beijing over 40 times over the past two decades and worked closely with Chinese media through the 2008 Summer Olympics, 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics and the lead up to Beijing 2022.
"I call Beijing my second home. I know this city quite well and I love coming here and I have been coming here since 2003. Beijing has changed," Edgar said.
From his point of view, the Olympic Park in Beijing, where he was interviewed by Xinhua, is similar to the Olympic Park in Sydney.
"In 2008, the Olympic Park was just a park. It was just a big open space. When I arrived this time, it's like a city itself. There are people living here and going to the shops downstairs. They're going there every single night. They're out dancing or singing or performing. And it's like a community of its own, it's like a part of the city," he said.
As the park will once again become the focus of the world, Beijing is set to become the first city ever to host both summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games.
Edgar underlined China's efforts of engaging 300 million people in winter sports through staging the 2022 Games.
"Now you've built (winter sports centers at) Zhangjiakou and Yanqing. You've got a fast train going there. It takes less than an hour to get there. People can go there and back in one day, which was impossible before. China wants to provide the community with additional facilities in winter sports. With that the Chinese can excel in winter sports just as any other nation can."
According to Edgar, building infrastructure and facilities has helped boost prosperity and development of winter sports among Chinese communities.
Edgar was impressed by the National Alpine Skiing Center and the National Sliding Center in the Yanqing competition zone, which will host alpine skiing, bobsleigh, skeleton and luge competitions during the Games.
"It's really pretty up there and I think it's going to look spectacular on television. I think it's going to surprise a lot of people, because most Westerners or people who have never been to China don't realize how beautiful the mountains are," he said.
In Edgar's opinion, it's wonderful to witness transformations like the 'Water Cube' turning into the 'Ice Cube', and the basketball court turning into an ice hockey rink at Wukesong Sports Center.
"I mean the facilities are fantastic. They've been ready," he said.
"When China put forward the 2008 bid, China spoke about leaving a legacy. Now you can see how that legacy is progressing."
Besides the Beijing 2022 venues, Edgar also gave positive feedback on the services and management. Speaking about the "closed-loop management system" in place to keep out COVID-19 infections, Edgar said: "I've always supported delivering this concept. I feel that I am one of the people that has spoken about the benefits and the challenges of that."
Referring to the difference between the Summer and Winter Olympics, Edgar expressed his confidence in China's ability to cope with the difficulties on the ice and snow, even though COVID-19 has undoubtedly made it more challenging than it would be under normal circumstances.
"You've run one of the best Olympic Games ever. You know how to do it," the former IOC official said.
When he's not working with the best in the media business, Edgar enjoys photography, a hobby which he has nurtured with the help of many award-winning news and sports photographers.
Over the past few weeks, he got his camera out to capture the lives of locals in Beijing's traditional hutong neighborhoods.
He also shared his photos of the light show rehearsed for the opening ceremony of Beijing 2022 with overseas audiences.
"I love photography. This location (beside the 'Bird's Nest' stadium) is where the iconic shot was taken in 2008. I try to capture as much of the light show as possible so people can get a better idea," Edgar said.
"When the photographers and the broadcast news media turn up, I can actually share a bit with them, show them examples. So, they are actually getting a feeling of what to expect.
"The opening ceremony is going to be really spectacular."
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