TOKYO, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The successful Beijing Olympic Winter Games will help boost the exchanges between China and Japan, said Shuichi Abe, governor of Japan's Nagano Prefecture.
Abe, 61, told Xinhua that as governor of the host prefecture of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, he is happy with the success of the Beijing Games.
"These games were held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Strict countermeasures were taken to prevent the spread of the virus, and the Olympic Games were held brilliantly," said Abe, who has been Nagano's governor since 2010.
Nagano, which boasts a number of world-renowned resorts like Nozawa Onsen, Hakuba Valley and Shiga Kogen, has played an important role in helping China grow its winter sports industry.
In December 1979, four weeks before they competed in China's first Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, four Chinese skiers were invited to Nagano for pre-Olympic training under the guidance of local Japanese coaches.
Hundreds of thousands of used skis and other accessories have been donated to China since the early 1980s, which helped build a precious fan base for the country's rise as a winter sports nation.
When Beijing was announced as the host of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in 2015, Abe sent a message to congratulate his counterpart in China's Hebei Province, Nagano's twin province since 1983. Zhangjiakou, which staged the majority of the ski and snowboarding events at the 2022 Winter Games, is situated in Hebei.
"Nagano Prefecture and Hebei Province have always maintained friendly exchanges," Abe said. "When Beijing won the bid, we felt as happy as it had been our own good news."
Abe said he had visited China almost annually before the pandemic, and Beijing 2022 president Cai Qi also went to Nagano in 2019 to try to gain some experience in hosting the Winter Olympics.
"We have made every effort to assist and support Beijing and Hebei's preparation for hosting the Games," he said. "We shared the experience of the Nagano Winter Olympics with them. We have provided as much information to China as possible."
"I hope that more people in China will take up winter sports," he added. "We will continue to work hard and hope that through the wonderful Winter Olympics, our friendly relationship will be further deepened."