“Beijing is ready for the Winter Olympics Beijing 2022 and facilities are fantastic.”
That’s the word from former IOC Head of Media Operations and Beijing 2022 Senior Consultant, Anthony Edgar.
Edgar, former head of Media Operations of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has travelled to Beijing over 40 times over the past two decades and worked closely with Chinese media through the Summer Olympics 2008, Nanjing Youth Olympics 2014 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 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 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.”
Edgar says he 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,” Edgar said.
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.
The Beijing 2022 Organising Committee on Jan 5 announced that the Main Media Centre had been put into operation and introduced two spokespersons to the public at a ceremony held at its Shougang headquarters.
Beijing 2022 vice president and secretary-general Han Zirong introduced Zhao Weidong and Yan Jiarong as spokespersons at the ceremony. The two will join the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) spokespersons in hosting Games-time press briefings.
“We are looking forward to the journalists, home and abroad, to telling the stories of the athletes and the Games, and presenting the world the passion and glamor of winter sports, helping promote winter sports around the globe,” Yan said.
The two spokespersons also attended a group interview to provide the latest updates on the Games and answered questions from the media.
“China is ready,” said Zhao in the interview. “We have been in close cooperation with the IOC, IPC and relevant parties in coordinating pandemic prevention and control and pushing forward the preparations. So far, everything goes smoothly. We are ready!”
As Zhao introduced, Beijing 2022 venues and relative infrastructures are completed as scheduled and well-operated, withstanding the tests of pre-homologation and test events. A comprehensive service and support system has been put in place with high-tech applications including 5G and cloud computing.
He also emphasized the progress made in COVID-19 countermeasures, milestone events and sustainability and legacy of the Games.
“We have been upholding the principles of hosting a ‘green, inclusive, open and clean’ Games throughout our preparations and the goal is to present the world an Olympic extravaganza,” he said.
Zhao continue to underline China’s commitment to host a ‘simple, safe and splendid’ Games, among which safety is the top priority, and the biggest challenge to a safe Games is the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A successful Games is not possible without COVID-19 prevention and control,” he said.
“We have been paying great attention to how the pandemic evolves, especially the Omicron variant. We are monitoring and evaluating the latest situation, and analyzing how it would affect the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The spokesperson went on to say that “a splendid Games is our goal and a result that is sure to come.” In addition, “it is what the world needs after withstanding the COVID challenges for so long.”
“Simple is no way substandard, and the Games can only be splendid when it is safe. A ‘simple, safe and splendid’ Beijing 2022 will be sweet and unforgettable memories of people,” Zhao explained.
During the interview, the other spokesperson Yan elaborated measures Beijing 2022 will adopt to provide Olympic-standard media service.
“We welcome media to cover the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in accordance with laws and regulations. With the challenges brought by the pandemic, it is the media that bring the passion and stories of the athletes and the Games to people around the world.
“Therefore, as the host nation, we will try our best to provide convenience for journalists,” Yan said.
According to Yan, the games will have a Main Media Centre (MMC) for accredited media inside the closed-loop and a media centre for non-accredited journalists outside the closed-loop, both in Beijing, as well as a Mountain Media Centre in Zhangjiakou.
During games time, accredited journalists can interview athletes in the mixed zones of competition venues, Winter Olympic Villages and Medals Plazas in Beijing and Zhangjiakou. Press conferences will be held in the MMC and the non-accredited media centre, all of which will be broadcast live on the MyInfo system. Journalists can also ask questions through the system and download the content of the conferences afterward.
“It is worth mentioning that a 40,000-square-metre space in the Olympic Green, which is next to the MMC, will be open to journalists for scenery shots,” Yan said.
She also highlighted that Beijing 2022 will offer “warm service under strict COVID-19 countermeasures.”
The MMC and the Mountain Media Centre will provide 24-hour catering service for journalists and 24-hour room service is available at nearly 50 designated hotels. There will be designated transport between the three competition zones and venues. Convenience stores and laundries are among the service provided inside the closed-loop and there will also be designated personnel to help journalists buy or do necessary things on their behalf.