With the rising of the curtain on the Beijing Winter Olympics on Friday, the world has an opportunity to put aside any differences and division under the common banner of "Higher, Faster, Stronger — Together".
The full participation of the extended Olympic family shows the unpopularity of the clamor that has sought to tarnish the image of the host, which from the "One World, One Dream" theme of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to the Winter Games theme of "Together for a Shared Future" has consistently championed the shared humanity that characterizes the Olympic spirit.
It is hoped that the Games will be able to play their part in galvanizing global solidarity and cooperation to help the world tide over this difficult time.
That the Games can be held as scheduled, despite the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus still raging in most countries, speaks volumes about the tremendous work China has done to host them.
Since Beijing and Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, won the bidding for the Games in 2015, the whole country, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, has regarded the preparation for the Games as a national priority. National resources have been mobilized to present to the world a simple, safe and splendid sporting spectacle that is open, sharing, green and clean.
Notably, China invited 37 experts and 207 technicians from overseas to ensure the professionalism of the infrastructure and management related to the Games, and its willingness to open its market to the world and share its development dividends is evident. It has welcomed world-class snow sports equipment manufacturers from France, Switzerland and Italy to localize their production in Zhangjiakou and expand their marketing in the country.
Along with the closed-loop management mode that is being employed to ensure the safety of all participants and attendees in the face of the grave challenges from the virus, it is no wonder that some foreign athletes have marveled at the state-of-the-art hardware, efficient organization and thoughtful reception China is providing.
The environmentally friendly infrastructure that has been newly built, as well as the green transformation of existing infrastructure, highlight that the Games are being staged in a manner that aligns with China's pursuit of high-quality development.
And the growing popularity of winter sports in the country provides a prism through which to view China's fast march to join the echelon of middle-income countries. China's per capita gross domestic product reached $12,100 last year, and with the middle-income group already numbering more than 400 million people and swelling rapidly, the Games will not only become a memory of a generation in the country, but also trigger a boom in winter sports that will be a new milestone on the country's development journey.
By early 2021, the country boasted 654 standard ice rinks, a surge of 317 percent on the number in 2015, and the number of ski resorts has risen from 568 in 2015 to 803 now. Over the past seven years, about 346 million people in the country have taken part in winter sports — a laudable contribution that China has made to popularizing the sports. It is projected that the total scale of the country's winter sports industry will reach 1 trillion yuan ($157.2 billion) by 2025.
As President Xi Jinping, a sports fan himself, said in the message he addressed to the opening of the 139th Session of the International Olympic Committee via video link on Thursday, by preparing for and organizing the Winter Games, China has boosted its regional development, ecological conservation and quality of life, in addition to opening up a broader space for the development of winter sports around the world.
With the world's eyes on China, we wish the Games a full success.