BEIJING (AFP) – China on Friday launched its 1,000-day countdown to the 2022 Winter Olympics with a lavish song-and-dance celebration, as Beijing prepares to become the only city in the world to have hosted both a Summer and Winter Games.
Actor Jackie Chan took part in the extravaganza along with officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), including vice-president Juan Antonio Samaranch Junior.
“With the… countdown celebration comes a new stage of Games preparations,” Beijing mayor Chen Jining said at the capital’s Olympic Park.
”We will continue to scrupulously and fully implement the instructions of Chinese President Xi Jinping”, he added.
China, which topped the 2008 Beijing Summer Games medals table, has a long way to go in winter sports, as shown by its tepid performance at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, where it won only one gold medal, in short-track speed skating.
Beijing aims to boost the number of Chinese taking part in winter sports to 300 million — or 22 percent of the population — by the start of the event.
Ski resorts have multiplied in the country since Beijing won its bid for the Winter Olympics in 2015, with major promotional campaigns helping to attract particularly young and middle class Chinese fans.
Several facilities used for the 2008 Summer Olympics will be venues at the Winter Games for events including skating and ice hockey.
In addition, the construction of new Olympic facilities is also underway, with an alpine ski complex due to be completed before the end of the year, according to the official Xinhua news agency.