The Beijing Winter Olympics (February 4-20) will be organized in three zones, partly reusing in the Chinese capital old sites of the Olympics-2008, such as the “Bird’s Nest”, the iconic stadium athletics.
30 days before the opening ceremony, here is an overview of the main sites:
With its intersecting steel beams, evoking a “bird’s nest” from which it takes its nickname, the Olympic Stadium with its 80,000 seats will host the opening and closing ceremonies.
Other 2008 Summer Games venues have also been transformed.
Among them are the “Water Cube”, the former aquatic center dedicated to swimming where the legendary Michael Phelps won eight Olympic titles in 2008. It is now called “Ice Cube” and will host the curling events.
The Wukesong Sports Palace and the National Sports Palace, where the basketball and gymnastics events were held in 2008, have been renovated to accommodate the men’s and women’s ice hockey tournaments.
Among the few new buildings in Beijing built especially for the Winter Games, there is a 12,000-seat covered ring dedicated to speed skating and nicknamed “the Ice Ribbon”.
Other venues have been built in the Chinese capital, including a 60-meter high platform, which will host the spectacular Big Air events in skiing and snowboarding.
It was built near the cooling towers of a former steelworks, which once employed tens of thousands of workers, before being converted into a complex of trendy offices, bars and restaurants.
The giant factory, emblematic of Beijing, had been partially shut down before the 2008 Games in order to limit polluting emissions, before closing definitively in 2010.
Located in a rural and mountainous area, about 75 km from the city center, the Yanqing area is already equipped with ski slopes, hotels and hot springs.
It will host the alpine skiing events. A total of 8,500 spectators will be able to attend, on the edge of tracks which have a vertical drop of up to 900 meters.
In Yanqing, the very first bobsleigh, skeleton and luge track in China was also built especially for the Games. It has a capacity of 2,000 seats and 8,000 standing.
China has connected the small town of Zhangjiakou (about 180 kilometers northwest of Beijing) and the other two Olympic areas by a high-speed rail line.
The site will host biathlon, cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined events, as well as freestyle skiing and snowboarding (excluding Big Air).
Special feature: the ski jump has an atypical shape reminiscent of a traditional “ruyi”, a kind of Chinese scepter symbolizing power and good fortune.
The freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions will take place in an already existing ski resort.
It is located a few kilometers from the Olympic Village of Zhangjiakou, a group of apartments surrounded by mountains and with architecture reminiscent of chalets.
Three Olympic Villages – one for each of the three zones – were built to accommodate more than 6,000 athletes, coaches and members of delegations.
After the Games, they will be converted into housing for individuals or business parks for companies.