World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo showcases China's winter sports boom

BEIJING, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo 2018 (WWSE) has become a platform for brands, associations and other organizations related to winter sports to exchange insights, close deals and form partnerships to tap into China's rapidly growing winter sports market.

With the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to be held in Beijing in 2022, China's winter sports and related industries have seen a significant uptick in business.

The first WWSE took place in 2016 following Beijing's successful bid to host the 2022 Winter Games. Both the Games themselves and related education and engagement programs are expected to encourage millions more to take up winter sports.

The third WWSE is currently being held in Beijing until September 22nd, with the theme of "The Power of Ice and Snow". The event covers sectors such as winter sports, the ice and snow industry, tourism & leisure and youth training, with over 20 parallel forums and supporting events also being held.

The Expo attracts representatives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as well as international winter sports federations and leading winter sports experts from Europe, the U.S. and Asia. It has also attracted over 500 Chinese and foreign brands, and nearly 24,000 representatives from specialist agencies, with the total number of visitors expected to top 150,000.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, Vice President of the IOC, said at the opening ceremony and main forum that China and the IOC had similar goals. "To encourage 300 million people to participate in winter sports is not only your aim, but also the IOC's aim. The IOC and international winter sports federations will jointly support China."

"The Expo is a good opportunity to better know China's winter sports and increase people's participation," he added.

Gian-Franco Kasper, President of the International Ski Federation (FIS), said he believed the third WWSE showed the maturity of China's winter sports market. The FIS hopes to reach a long-term and sustainable cooperation with China.

The Organizing Committee for the 2022 Games also attended the WWSE for the third consecutive year, allowing visitors to see the progress in the Games' preparatory work, the distribution of venues, and stadium planning, as well as finding out more about the sports and competitions to be held at the Games.

FIS Secretary-General Sarah Lewis advised the organizers on the legacy of the Olympic venues. "We can use sustainable methods to build and use ski resorts, so that natural and human resources can be fully utilized. For example, the ski resorts could also be used as mountain bike venues in summer."

Lewis also stressed the importance of ski training. "We know that 80 percent of China's skiers are beginners, for whom safety is paramount. They should enjoy winter sports without fear. Therefore, relevant safety training is important."

It is hoped that Beijing 2022 will be a catalyst to improve China's winter sports. Jan Dijkema, President of the International Skating Union, talked up China's medal prospects and winter sports legacy. "I know that Chinese skaters have performed very well. China has won 13 Winter Olympic gold medals. I believe China can succeed in promoting winter sports."