Final touches put on Asian Games prep

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-15

Print Print


People donate blood in an Asian Games-themed blood donation vehicle in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Wednesday. The city has established a rare blood type emergency donation team for the Asian Games. LI ZHONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Venues are done, rehearsals underway for a sustainable and intelligent event

With preparations progressing well on all fronts, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province is putting the finishing touches on the 19th Asian Games to impress the world with a sustainable and intelligent event.

The venues are done, the villages are furnished and rehearsals are underway. Just over three months out from the Asian Games' opening on Sept 23, organizers have prepared the stage in the capital of Zhejiang for Asia's best to compete at the quadrennial sporting gala, while enjoying the unique culture of the East China province.

"We've entered the home stretch now," Zhou Jinqiang, a vice-president of the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee, said during a news conference on Wednesday.

"We are pushing ahead with the final preparatory work smoothly and orderly to host an excellent edition of the Asian Games that is safe and pleasant for all participants," said Zhou, who is also a vice-minister of the General Administration of Sport of China and a vice-president of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

"We've received a massive amount of applications from countries and regions across Asia to participate in the games and visit China. For sure we won't let them down."

As the world's biggest sporting event in scale, the Asian Games, which include both Olympic and non-Olympic sports, will see an estimated 12,000 athletes from all 45 national and regional Olympic committees in Asia compete in a record 483 medal events through Oct 8. Esports and break dancing will make their debut as official competition events on the Asiad program.

With the games postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hangzhou and five co-host cities in Zhejiang have overcome enormous logistic challenges to complete the construction and renovation of all 56 competition venues, including 19 for the following Asian Para Games, ahead of schedule, according to the organizing committee.

Among all venues, only 12 are newly built, while the rest have been transformed and refurbished from existing facilities as part of organizers' sustainable approach.

Venue owners and operators have developed post-game plans for 51 venues, which are expected to host mass-fitness activities, professional training programs of national and provincial teams, and additional international events.

With a gap year enforced by the pandemic delay, all the available Hangzhou 2022 venues have opened to the public for exercises and amateur competitions, having received 8 million visits since last year for the public to experience the world-class facilities.

"To host such a large-scale international event in a sustainable and economic way is our promise and reflects the future of the Asian Games," said Yao Gaoyuan, mayor of Hangzhou and secretary-general of the organizing committee.

"We need more venues and facilities than the Olympics for the Asiad, yet we stick to the same principle of reusing ready-made venues and incorporating further operational plans in the design and construction of all new venues."

Organizers have run 42 test events and dress rehearsals at full capacity to examine facilities while optimizing operations at all venues, with 13 more to go, according to the organizing committee.

Three Asian Games villages providing 727 apartment units with accessible facilities to accommodate athletes, media and technical officials have been completed and decorated.

The flame for the 19th Asiad will be lit during a special ceremony at the Liangzhu Ancient City Ruins Park in Hangzhou's northern suburbs, followed by the unveiling of the games' official medals, on Thursday to mark the 100-day-to-go milestone.

A total of 50,000 volunteers to be deployed at official venues and a larger group of 1.42 million city volunteers have been recruited and trained, while the launch of a digital service platform — Smart Hangzhou 2022 — on Alipay is expected to be a game-changer for helping facilitate all participants' stays in Hangzhou.

The mini-program, which has amassed over 50 million registered users, offers services for ticketing, transportation guides, competition schedules and recommendations of local cuisines, cultural events and sightseeing spots.

The official torch relay for the games will include a digital version that allows users to create their own versions of a "digital torchbearer" on the mini-program and get involved in the online relay to celebrate the games, organizers added.

"All the digital initiatives that we've innovated during the preparations will help turn the games into a smart, intellectual and fun event for all participants," said Yao.