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China outlines skiing, skating investment drive ahead of Beijing’s Olympics

The Chinese government has said it plans to further develop the country’s winter sports market ahead of Beijing’s 2022 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games by building more than 500 ice skating rinks and 240 ski slopes over the next six years.

China’s top economic planning body said today (Friday) that the number and scale of the country’s current infrastructure did not meet its winter sports development targets. “At the moment… there is a large gap with other developed countries with winter sports,” the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said, according to the Reuters news agency, in a document signed by other government bodies including the finance and sports ministries.

Beijing will become the first city to host both the summer and winter Olympics after it edged out the rival claims of Almaty, Kazakhstan to land the 2022 Games in July 2015. The Games concept is closely aligned with long-term development goals for Beijing and neighbouring Hebei Province. The Chongli district of Zhangjiakou city will hold snow events at the Games including biathlon, Nordic combined, ski jumping, snowboard and freestyle skiing.

The NDRC has not specified planned expenditure on the initiative, but said it would use a mix of government and private funding and was open to support from financial institutions. It said the effort would be led by Beijing, along with Tianjin and Hebei provinces.

Cities with a population of more than 500,000 people will be encouraged to build public ice skating rinks, while the government is also seeking to develop rinks on suitable rivers and lakes.