With less than five months to go before the International Olympic Committee chooses the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics, Chinese political advisors have voiced full support for Beijing's bid at the annual session of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Basketball legend Yao Ming, one of the highest-profile CPPCC member, believes that Beijing's bid for the Winter Olympics will take sport in China to new level.
"The Beijing 2022 bid would make Chinese people understand more about sport, and as the Winter Olympics feature more outdoor events than the Summer Games, it will get more Chinese involved in sport," said the former NBA All-Star center.
Yao, who retired from basketball in 2011 because of a foot injury and now runs the Chinese Basketball Association's Shanghai Sharks club, was named last month an ambassador for the Beijing 2022 Bid.
"I am honored to play a part in Beijing's 2022 bid," said Yao.
"Beijing lost out in the bid race for the 2000 Olympics but won the second time - for the 2008 Games. Those have become unforgettable memories of many Chinese people. I was too young to contribute to either bid, but this time I will do my best," he added.
Han Aiping, also a CPPCC member whose daily work is promoting sports at the grassroots level, said that hosting an Winter Olympics in China can further popularize healthy life style in the world's most populous nation.
"Since the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Chinese people have had more profound understanding of sport, and the national fitness drive has gained more and more attention from the public. I believe, if we win the Winter Olympics bid, the mass enthusiasm in sports, especially winter sports, will go to a new level," said Han, a retired badminton player who won multiple world titles in 1980s.
Li Guoping, head of the Beijing Sports Medicine Hospital, has noticed a raising enthusiasm in winter sports since Beijing launched the bid for the 2022 Games.
"Patients with injuries sustained in winter sports activities increased last year. I think it somehow reflects the growing popularity of winter sports in China," said Li.
"Compared with winter sports, summer sports are better developed in China. But on the other hand, we can also say winter sports have bigger potential in our country. If our bid succeeds, such potential can be well released," he added.
Fellow CPPCC member Bian Zhiliang is optimistic about Beijing's chances in the two-city race with Almaty, Kazakhstan.
"As ex-IOC president Jacques Rogge said, the 2008 Beijing Olympics was 'truly exceptional'. I believe if the IOC awards Beijing the 2022 Games, we can also deliver one of the best Winter Olympics in history," said Bian, founder of Taishan Sports Equipment Manufacture Group, an official supplier of the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The IOC members will vote on the host city in Kuala Lumpur on July 31.
(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2015)