Xi's passion and action for winter sports and activities

2024-February-22 09:59 By: China Daily

Booming winter tourism and increased mass participation in winter sports continue to inject vitality to the ice and snow season in China. Significant progress has been made in winter activities under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who on many occasions has stressed the development of winter sports and ice and snow industries. As the winter activities gain greater momentum in China, let's review his passion and support for winter sports and economy.

Winter sports enthusiast

President Xi Jinping is interviewed on Rossiya TV in Russia in February 2014. (Photo/Xinhua)

In February 2014, President Xi attended the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. During that visit, he told Rossiya TV, a Russian television channel, that he loves winter sports. "I like watching ice hockey games, speed skating, figure skating and freestyle skiing. Hockey is my favorite, because it requires both personal skill and teamwork."

Growing up in the northern part of China, Xi developed enthusiasm for skating at a young age. During his visit to Beijing's Wukesong sports center in February 2017, Xi shared with the young ice hockey athletes his experience of first stepping onto the ice in a pair of skates.

"Back then, I was a primary school pupil, the same age as you, and it was on the frozen lake of Shichahai in central Beijing. I simply started skating, despite the fact that my skating boots were the wrong size."

Care and encouragement

President Xi Jinping meets Chinese athletes in Sochi, Russia, the host city of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games, on Feb 7, 2014. (Photo/Xinhua)

During a visit to the Chinese delegation to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Xi said that athletes' success would not be measured only by the number of medals they win, but also by how they demonstrate the Olympic spirit of constantly improving themselves and surpassing their limit.

President Xi Jinping bumps a young hockey player's shoulder with his own - a special greeting in the game, on Feb 24, 2017. (Photo/Xinhua)

In February 2017, at the end of an ice hockey scrimmage by a group of elementary school students from Beijing at the Wukesong sports center, Xi shook hands with each of them while praising their skills.

Xi bent over and bumped a nine-year-old hockey player's shoulder with his own — a special greeting in the game.

"Grow a little bit stronger, young man," Xi said to him with a smile.

"I hope some of you will make your way to the national team in the future," he said.

Promise kept

President Xi Jinping delivers a video address at the opening ceremony of the 139th session of the International Olympic Committee, on Feb 3, 2022. (Photo/Xinhua)

The primary goal of staging the Winter Olympics in China is to "engage 300 million people in ice-snow sports" and promote the leapfrog development of winter sports in the country, Xi told International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

By October 2021, around 346 million people — about a quarter of the country's population — participated in ice-snow sports since China's successful bid to host the Winter Olympics, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

"The goal has now become a reality," said Xi when he met with Bach in Beijing in January 2022.

China's fulfillment of its pledge to engage 300 million people in winter sports was praised by Bach, who described it as an "unprecedented, great achievement," and said it will become an important legacy of Beijing 2022 for the Chinese people and for the Olympic Movement.

Diplomatic exchanges

Finnish athletes present tracksuit to President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan in Helsinki, Finland, on April 5, 2017. (Photo/Xinhua)

President Xi and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto met skaters' representatives from the two countries in Helsinki, Finland, on April 5, 2017, with both sides pledging to enhance cooperation in winter sports.

The athletes had just attended the World Figure Skating Championships 2017 in Helsinki.

Xi congratulated Finland on hosting a successful sporting event and commended the athletes for their outstanding performance.

He noted that sports exchange is an important bridge in promoting the China-Finland friendship, saying that China has a lot to learn from Finland as the Nordic country excels in winter sports.

President Xi Jinping and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, attending the inauguration of the 2019 China-Finland Year of Winter Sports, are given items with the year's logo by children from each country at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Jan 14, 2019. (Feng Yongbin/China Daily)

In 2019, the two leaders attended the launch event of the 2019 China-Finland Year of Winter Sports. There is great potential for the two countries to enhance winter sports cooperation, Xi said, adding that the winter sports year will inject new impetus for people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

'Gold and silver'

President Xi Jinping inspects the Beijicun, or "North Pole Village", a riverside border village, in Mohe, Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, on Sept 6, 2023. (Photo/Xinhua)

Xi has championed fully exploiting the nation's ice and snow resources, saying on multiple occasions that "ice and snow are also as valuable as gold and silver".

Xi has made specific instructions on the development of winter tourism during fact-finding trips to Northeast China in 2023, highlighting the importance of "enabling the picturesque landscapes of the northern borderlands and the wealth of ice and snow resources to provide an inexhaustible source of income for the residents".

During the Spring Festival holiday from Feb 10 to 17, 2024, Harbin, dubbed China's "ice city" and the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, welcomed a record-high of 10.09 million visits and generated 16.42 billion yuan (about $2.28 billion) of tourism revenue, a year-on-year increase of 235.4 percent, according to the city's tourism department.

Editor: ZAD
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