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Vancouver helps Beijing prepare for Winter Games

Exchanges between sports officials in Vancouver and Beijing will increase this year as the Chinese capital gears up for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

According to the local non-profit Canada China Sports Foundation, Beijing sent a four-member team to Vancouver last month to meet with provincial representatives and tour facilities such as the Richmond Oval.

The interest in Vancouver’s remaining infrastructure from the 2010 Winter Games is particularly high, said foundation director Frank Wu, because Chinese officials are looking to build venues that will remain in use after the Games are over.

“(The Chinese delegation was) very surprised how packed the Oval is on any given weekend,” Wu said. “Every corner was packed. It’s a very important concept, because … organizers (of Beijing 2022) are looking specifically for sustainability.”

The delegation’s visit is expected to be followed by groups from the northern Chinese city of Jilin later this month and from Inner Mongolia later in the year.

In addition, a delegation of officials who were involved in the 2010 Games will make of tour of Chinese cities this fall, led by former Canucks owner and 2010 Bid Society chairman Arthur Griffiths. He said it will be crucial for the team of Canadian experts to actually visit China to get an idea of winter sports there.

“The reality, despite (Beijing) hosting an immensely successful 2008 Summer Games, is that winter sports is dramatically different,” Griffith said. “China needs to see, touch and hear what winter sports is all about. … We have the latest technology and some of the best talent in the world, which I think gives us an advantage.”

Beijing hopes that 300 million Chinese will take up various winter sports after watching them played at the 2022 Games, which is expected to create huge demand for related products and services.

As such, Wu said his group is trying to attract Canadian winter sports-related industries to participate in next year’s China Sport Show, the country’s only large-scale exhibition for the industry. The show will be key for Canadian equipment and apparel makers to get to know the Chinese market, Wu said.

“This is something that can happen very quickly because the supply on our side and the demand on the Chinese side are both already present,” Wu said.

News source: http://vancouversun.com/business/local-business/vancouver-helps-beijing-prepare-for-winter-games