SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China wants to get 300 million citizens involved in winter sports by the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and plans to encourage them by building more than 500 ice skating rinks and 240 ski slopes over the next six years, the government said.
The country’s top economic planner said on Friday that the number and scale of China’s current facilities did not match 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 said in a document signed by other government bodies including the finance and sports ministries.
Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics to widespread acclaim, but its bid for the Winter Games was dogged by concerns over issues ranging from the city’s notorious smog problem to a lack of snow – and the country’s poor record on human rights.
The government has since vowed to use the staging of the 2022 event to drive pollution clean-up efforts to keep a close eye on large-scale construction projects.
The NDRC did not disclose how much it planned to spend on the drive, 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 the integrated mega city of Beijing, along with Tianjin and Hebei provinces. Beijing and the city of Zhangjiakou won the right last year to host the Winter Games.
Cities with a population of more than 500,000 people will be encouraged to build public ice skating rinks and the government is also looking to construct rinks on suitable rivers and lakes.
($1 = 6.9144 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Brenda Goh, editing by Ed Osmond)