From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Chinese President Xi Jinping, yesterday, met with the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, in a statement on its website, said, noting that today marks the Minor New Year’s Day in the Chinese lunar calendar and that the Chinese New Year officially starts in just a few days, President Xi welcomed President Bach to the celebration of the Spring Festival in China.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry further said President Xi pointed out that after more than six years of preparations and with everything falling into place, the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 will be held on schedule as promised.
“China will honor its commitment to present to the world a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games. This is the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that a comprehensive global sporting event is held as scheduled. It is a successful example of acting upon the new Olympic motto: ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together,’” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
Xi noted that in hosting the Olympic Winter Games, China has received support from not only the Chinese people, but also the international community.
“Nearly 3,000 athletes from about 90 countries and regions will attend this year’s games which includes more events and will produce more gold medals than any previous games, providing opportunities for more athletes to realize their dreams in Beijing. By putting the athletes front and center, China is making every effort to ensure sound hardware and software for the Games including venues, facilities and all-round services. President Xi expressed full confidence in keeping the participants, stakeholders and the Chinese people safe and healthy,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry also said.
President Xi stressed that he had identified, early in the bidding stage, the primary purpose of hosting the Games as engaging 300 million people in winter sport.
“Thanks to continuous efforts, this vision has become a reality. “Ice and snow are also as valuable as gold and silver.” The hosting of the games has also driven the growth of winter sport industries and the ice and snow economy in China. By hosting the Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008, the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014 and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, China has awakened the passion for the Olympic Movement in the Chinese people, boosted the development of sports in China, and played an important role in promoting the Olympic spirit around the globe. The notion of “Together” championed by the Olympic Movement is needed more than ever. Instead of riding separately in some 190 small boats, countries around the world should stay together in one giant vessel and sail toward a brighter future. That is why we put forth “Together for a Shared Future” as the official motto for the Beijing 2022 Games. China will make new and bigger contributions to the Olympic Movement and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind,” the statement read.
“I look forward to witnessing the important moment of the Games’ opening with you, President Bach,” Xi said.
On his part, Bach wished the Chinese people a happy Spring Festival and best luck in the Year of the Tiger in Chinese.
Bach commended the joint efforts by relevant Chinese authorities and the Chinese people which ensured excellent and smooth preparations for the Games, saying that he was impressed by the outstanding venues, thorough COVID-19 countermeasures and advanced concept of sustainability.
He also applauded China’s efficiency, determination and dynamism. Bach thanked China for the hospitality and thoughtful arrangements accorded to the IOC and athletes from around the world.
Bach expressed full confidence that the strong measures taken by China will ensure the delivery of a safe, smooth and successful Games, a great event that athletes from around the world have all come to Beijing to enjoy.
“China’s objective to involve more than 300 million people in winter sport has been realized. This is an unprecedented, great achievement and will become an important legacy of Beijing 2022 for the Chinese people and for the Olympic Movement. It will also start a new era for global winter sport. Some countries are sending athletes to the Olympic Winter Games for the first time, which fully demonstrates the extensive support of the international community for the Beijing 2022 Games, in contrast to the overwhelming international opposition to the politicization of sports. President Bach expressed his wish that the Year of the Tiger would be a year of courage and strength and a year of health and happiness for the Chinese people. He said that the Beijing 2022 Games would be the world’s best New Year gift to the Chinese people, and wished for a world of greater unity,” the statement further read.