A post-Olympics “bounce” — in which certain sports such as swimming and gymnastics in the summer and figure skating and curling in the winter receive a flurry of registrations from would-be participants eager to try something new — is quite common. But a funny thing is happening in China, where Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
According to the Olympic news website insidethegames.biz, local officials in the Chinese province of Hebei, where the majority of skiing competition will take place in 2022, already are reporting a 30 percent increase in winter sports participation.
An estimated10 million people took part in such ice and snow events as cross country skiing, biathlon, snowboarding and freestyle skiing in Hebei last winter, with 265 events held over a four-month period, insidethegames.biz noted, citing a report from the Xinhua News Agency.
“After Beijing won the bid to host the Winter Games, Hebei, with a population of 75 million, set a target of involving 30 million people in winter sports by 2022,” the site added. “This was part of the wider national goal to give 300 million people in China access to winter sports before the Games.”
All of this activity apparently has resulted in the opening of new ski resorts and ice rinks in Hebei, and nearly 20 ice and snow sports associations have been established in the country to encourage even more participation and certify more snow sport instructors.
Capitalizing on this early excitement, organizers of the 2022 Winter Games held a flash mob event in late May to mark the beginning of the 1,000-day countdown to the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Athletes from Beijing’s figure skating and curling teams, along with local high school students, were among the participants who gave performances in curling, figure skating, ice hockey and speed skating, according to insidethegames.biz.