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China to deliver 'safe and splendid' Winter Olympics: President Xi

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Medical personnel wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) sit rink-side as Czech ice hockey team trains at the National Indoor Stadium ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, on February 1, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Chinese President Xi Jinping says his country will do its best to deliver safe and splendid Olympic Winter Games, as preparations for the event have been complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Xi made the remark in a video address at the opening ceremony of the 139th International Olympic Committee Session in the capital, Beijing, on Thursday, saying China was committed to pursuing the Olympic ideal with "concrete actions."

"From 'One World-One Dream' in 2008 to 'Together for a Shared Future' in 2022, China has taken an active part in the Olympic movement and consistently championed the Olympic spirit," Xi said.

"The Olympic Winter Games will open tomorrow evening. The world is turning its eyes to China and China is ready. We will do our best to deliver to the world a streamlined, safe and splendid Games, and act on the Olympic motto 'Faster, Higher, Stronger ― Together,'" he added.

Xi said that by organizing the Winter Games, China had successfully engaged 300 million Chinese in winter sports for the event as promised, adding that it had created greater space for the development of winter sports worldwide.

He said the world today, under the combined impact of changes unseen in a hundred years and a once-in-a-century pandemic, was entering a new period of turbulence and transformation and facing multiple challenges to humanity.

Xi further thanked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its active contribution to the development of sport in China over the years, as well as its strong support and guidance for the country's bid and preparation for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

Meanwhile, IOC President Thomas Bach, who was present at the gathering, said that in the two years leading up to the Beijing Games, he had seen "the dark clouds of the growing politicization of sport on the horizon."

"We also saw that in some peoples' minds, the boycott ghosts of the past were rearing their ugly heads again," he said.

Bach pointed to the 1976, 1980, and 1984 Olympics, which were all hit by boycotts of countries during the Cold War era, saying, "This is why we have been working even harder to get this unifying mission of the Olympic Games across to as many leaders and decision makers as possible."

He pointed to what he said were major commercial opportunities created by the Games, which he expected would transform the global winter sports industry. He estimated China's winter sports industry to be worth some $150 billion by 2025, adding that, "From this tremendous growth the winter sports industry around the world will benefit."

The latest development comes as a handful of Western countries have followed the United States in a "diplomatic boycott" of the international sports event over alleged Chinese "atrocities" against minority Muslims in Xinjiang Province. China has denied any wrongdoing in Xinjiang, saying the allegations are fabricated. In the so-called diplomatic boycott, the US and the other countries will not be sending any high-ranking government officials to the Games, but their national sports teams will attend.

It also comes as organizers have reported detecting dozens of new coronavirus infections among people linked to the Games.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place from February 4 to 20, 2022, followed by the Paralympics from March 4 to 13.

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