BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the need for sustainability and post-event planning while on a visit to ski venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, underscoring the government's hopes of leveraging the games to promote winter sports among hundreds of millions of its citizens living in the country's north.
Xi's trip Monday to Chongli in Hebei province adjoining Beijing marks the latest bid to ramp up enthusiasm for the games.
"Chongli's position should be clearly designated and it should not be developed into some kind of large-scale metropolis with all the accoutrements. That would be the mark of failure," Xi said in remarks carried on the main national news broadcaster. "Chongli should instead be a ski destination with strong local character."
Xi also expressed concern about the future use of facilities, although growing Chinese interest in skiing and snowboarding is driving demand for such spaces.
"The post-Olympics operation of the facilities should be considered beforehand, given that many Olympic host cities face challenges with venues left unused after the event," Xi told local officials before donning a hat and gloves to tour the course and chat with skiers."
Beijing's urban center will host indoor events such as ice hockey and figure skating, largely in venues left over from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. However, a lack of mountains and natural snow requires that ski events be held at sports clusters in Chongli as well as Beijing's rural Yanqing county, both of which will be connected to the city center by a high-speed rail line.
A decision has not yet been announced on a possible relocation of the proposed sliding center in Yanqing for bobsled, luge and skeleton.
Beijing, not known for winter sports, could rely heavily on man-made snow for the ski and snowboard events.
Beijing was awarded the games 2015, defeating Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the voting to become the first city to have been awarded both the Summer and Winter Olympics
The IOC has heaped lavish praise on China's preparations for the games, most recently during a visit by Xi to the organization's headquarters in Switzerland last week. Along with promoting the Winter Games, Xi's administration has set a goal of transforming underperforming China into a major football power by 2050 through a massive youth development program.
While serving as China's vice president, Xi had been given the largely honorary title of executive overseer of Beijing's 2008 preparations.