How the Olympics will boost China's snowsports ambitions
Johan Eliasch

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for influential leaders to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Johan Eliasch is the president of the International Ski Federation. This article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

It is the magic of the Olympic Games that captivates each and everyone; with the very special spirit, with great competitions and with athletes at their best.

Top performance, friendship and respect. These are the values that the Olympic Games embody and that have made us view the television coverage and follow the disciplines since we were children.

And the principles of the Olympic Movement still hold the same fascination for me today.

It includes giving your best – both in sport and in life – and endeavoring with determination to achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams.

It includes promoting mutual understanding between peoples and striving to create a peaceful and better world thanks to solidarity, team spirit, joy and optimism in sport.

And this includes the ethical principles that should inspire all those who take part in the Olympic programs.

Sport promotes, challenges, shapes and connects regardless of age, origin and income. That is why it is so valuable – for all of us as well as for society as a whole.

The Olympic Games create a combination of sport, culture and transmission of values and therefore offer a platform of sporting competition and exchange.

Beijing hosting the Winter Games is both an honor and an opportunity.

It is the result of China's commitment to prioritize the development of snowsports in the country. The initiative with the goal of bringing 300 million Chinese to snow and ice sports shows ambition, commitment and determination.

It is a clear yes to taking snowsports to the next level and adding China to the winter sports map.

Zhen Weijie of China competes in the Men's Large Hill Individual final of the 2021/2022 FIS Ski Jumping Continental Cup, a test event for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the National Ski Jumping Center in Zhangjiakou, north China's Hebei Province, December 4, 2021. /VCG

Zhen Weijie of China competes in the Men's Large Hill Individual final of the 2021/2022 FIS Ski Jumping Continental Cup, a test event for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the National Ski Jumping Center in Zhangjiakou, north China's Hebei Province, December 4, 2021. /VCG

But hosting the Olympic Games is also an important milestone on the road to an even brighter and more successful future. The Games are not the culmination and end point of the development of snowsports in China, but the beginning. Beijing 2022 can act as a catalyst towards the targeted 300 million winter sports participants in China.

The Olympic Games are the perfect opportunity to bring snowsports further into the focus of the people in the country, to increase interest in the disciplines through the great performances of the world's best athletes and to inspire the youth – of the Olympics, of snowsports and of the opportunities it offers for each of us.

China has already proven that Beijing can handle organizing the Olympic Games by hosting the Summer Games in 2008. And they also proved that sport is not just about a few weeks, but that hosting the Olympic Games leaves a legacy.

Some of the competition venues from 2008 will also serve as venues for the athletes at this year's Olympic Games. This underlines sustainability and is exactly what I have in mind for the Beijing 2022 legacy.

Most of the competition venues for the International Ski Federation (FIS) disciplines will continue to be used in the future – either for recreational purposes or as venues for World Cup events.

The development of snowsports in China has a special significance for the FIS. China is one of the biggest markets in the world and has incredible potential.

We want to exploit it together with the Chinese Ski Association. For this reason, the FIS has opened a Liaison Office in Beijing to be able to guide and support the development and promotion of snowsports onsite.

We have also set up a special FIS working group dedicated to the development of snowsports in the country, bringing together an experienced and knowledgeable group which is working on ideas and proposals to establish snowsports in China.

FIS represents all nations and together we have multiple opportunities to develop and promote the growth of our sport.

I see the future of snowsports in China as a great promise. And this promise must be filled with life. What is possible is shown by the progress that Chinese athletes have already showcased in the young FIS disciplines of snowboarding and freestyle in recent years – with remarkable placings at the last Olympic Games, for example Zhang Xin and Jia Zongyang's silver medals in the aerials event in PyeongChang.

When the winter sports family now comes together in Beijing under the sign of the five Olympic rings, special sporting moments await us. After all, the Olympics write many of them that will remain unforgotten for decades.

Such great memories, like the incredible comeback of the "Herminator" Hermann Maier in Nagano 1998, three days after a horrific crash in the downhill he won the Super-G, and again three days later he took gold in the Giant Slalom.

The performance of Shaun White, who after 2006 also secured the gold medal in the halfpipe in 2010 and 2018.

Or cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie's winning of four Olympic medals at his home event in Lillehammer in 1994, where it was bitterly cold but the atmosphere was incredibly warm thanks to hundreds of thousands of fans cheering the athletes on.

Now we are living in unprecedented times. The pandemic is affecting our society and our everyday life – and it will also affect the Olympic Games. It will bring stricter rules for all of us.

But it will not break the magic of the Games.

The Olympic Games will remain a place of hope, dreams and coming together. The competitions will inspire and provide identification.

They will put China in the global spotlight. They will create a platform through which different cultures are united in their love and passion for sport. And they will bring Chinese fans closer to winter sports and inspire them.

A strong snowsports nation China not only benefits the country itself, it will benefit sport in general. It strengthens it, makes it more global, increases its attractiveness and enhances its commercial potential.

Top performance, friendship and respect. I am now looking forward to being in Beijing and experiencing this spirit and the magic of the Olympic Games sporting festival up close together with all fans.

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