After emerging victorious over the hated Almaty in its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, China woke up to the unfortunate reality that it wasn’t very good at winter sports. The burden for getting good has now apparently fallen on the children.
While China may have disappointed at the 2016 Rio Games, they have still put up an incredibly impressive record in recent Summer Olympic Games. Winter Olympic Games? Yeah, not so much. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, China came in 13th at the medal table with a measly 3 gold medals, ending up behind Poland and Belarus.
China has been extremely successful at training world-class athletes at various Summer Olympic events by starting early and targeting kids when they are young. Now apparently they are ready to apply the same sort of idea to winter sports.
On Thursday, at the 2016 International Winter Sports Exposition in Beijing, municipal officials announced that they were planning to make winter sports a compulsory course for the city’s primary and middle school students, Sina reports.
The plan is to have kids get good in at least one winter sport by forcing them to practice it for at least one hour per week.
Now, you might be wondering, where? Beijing isn’t exactly known as a winter sports city. There’s not a skating rink inside every school. Heck, there’s usually not even enough snow on the mountains.
Well, not to worry, because Sun Xuecai, the director of the Beijing Sports Bureau, has announced that by 2022, 16 indoor skating rinks and 50 outdoor rinks will be built by the government in downtown Beijing, while new ski resorts will be placed out in the suburbs.
According to the Sina report, rinks and ski simulators have already been introduced at some Beijing schools, and professional athletes have been invited to help inspire kids to pick up some skate, skis or sticks.
This is all just one part of a massive infrastructure plan as Beijing prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. They are builidng a new high-speed railway line from Beijing to the Olympic facilities in Zhangjiakou — which will also feature the world’s deepest railway station built underneath the Great Wall — as well as this neato bridge.
But with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics only six years away, time is quickly running out for China to get good at winter sports. You might worry that these elementary school kids won’t mature fast enough to do their country proud in the bobsleigh race. Well, don’t forget that Beijing’s only real competition in hosting the Winter Olympics was Kazakhstan, so China might just be hosting the event every four years for the foreseeable future.
[Images via Sina]