Beijing ready for Winter Olympics, says former IOC head of Media Operations

BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) - Beijing is ready for the 2022 Winter Olympics and facilities are fantastic, said Beijing 2022's senior consultant Anthony Edgar.

Edgar, 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.


"It's my second home I call it. 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 with 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 Winter Olympics.

"Now you've built Zhangjiakou and Yanqing. You've got a fast train going there. It takes less than an hour to get there. People can go up 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 that are set to 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."

"When China put forward the 2008 bid, China spoke about leaving a legacy. Now you can see how that legacy is progressing," Edgar said.

Besides the Beijing 2022 venues, Edgar has also given positive feedback on the services and management. When talking about the "closed-loop" for the upcoming Games, Edgar said "I've always supported delivering the concept [about the closed-loop]. I feel that I was one of the people that speaks about 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 definitely made it more challenging than it should have been.

The former IOC official went on to say that "You've run one of the best Olympic Games ever. You knew how to do it."

Edgar works closely with the best in the news business while maintaining his love for photography by working with many award-winning news and sports photographers.

In the past half month, he enjoyed wandering in Beijing's Hutongs and took photos to capture the culture and lifestyle of the locals. 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 [besides the 'Bird Nest'] 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 [of what the show looks like]."

"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," Anthony said.