Reaping the benefits of Hangzhou 2022 venues
All 56 competition venues and 31 training venues for the postponed 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou are gradually opening to the public.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the Games, originally scheduled for September, were being postponed due to the pandemic situation. However, locals can enjoy the facilities from July 1, according to the Games' organizing committee.
Organizers say the opening of the venues and facilities emphasizes the important roles the 2022 Asian Games play in enhancing fitness, culture and sports, and meeting the growing needs of citizens, as well as gaining experience for holding high-level competitions.
Venues operated by third parties, such as Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, can charge appropriate fees, introduce branding, and host sports events, exhibitions and cultural performances, added organizers.
However, sports centers offering daily public services with relatively low operation costs should offer free admission to their gymnasiums, squares, and track and field venues.
Venues designed to host elite competitions－for sports such as rowing, kayaking, equestrian, shooting and cycling－can hire professional teams to run the venues and maintain facilities and equipment. It's anticipated these venues will offer sports-related experience activities to the public.
Venues located in universities will be able to stage various sports events, improving their utilization beyond their daily use in students' education.
Some venues have already opened to the public, including the Basketball Court and Indoor Training Hall Squash Court of Huanglong Sports Center.
"As soon as the Games were postponed, many friends of mine who are squash enthusiasts asked me if Huanglong Squash Hall would be opened earlier," said Jing Shenglai, a squash coach at the venue.
"The lights are bright, the venue is clean and tidy, and lockers have been installed. My friends and I couldn't wait to experience it!" Jing added.
Demand for activities at Huanglong is already strong.
"After the first week of opening, Huanglong Sports Center was fully booked, and we also received lots of positive feedback," said a staff member at the venue.
Huanglong Sports Center was due to host gymnastics at the Asian Games, and has now been transformed into a basketball venue for the public.
In addition, the swimming, diving and outdoor track and field facilities will be opened to the public in June and July.
The Hangzhou Gymnasium, meanwhile, held free experience activities for citizens over a three-day period before its official opening on May 25.
The venue's 14 table tennis tables and four squash courts are already proving extremely popular with local residents.
With the online booking system not yet in operation, the phones have been ringing off the hook. In addition to locals, many tourists also want to visit and experience the Asian Games venues in advance, according to gymnasium staff.
As the venue for boxing at the Asian Games and the boccia competition of the Asian Para Games, Hangzhou Gymnasium had been closed for renovation since September 2018.
Hangzhou Gymnasium currently offers a total of 14 table tennis tables, four squash courts and six badminton courts for public use, as well as areas reserved for dance training.
The Games' organizing committee has pledged to open venues in a controlled and orderly manner as it bids to protect and maintain the quality of the facilities.
Organizers have proposed that each venue should establish a long-term operation and maintenance team, and upgrade facilities and equipment to ensure that the venue will meet the requirements of the Asian Games.
For instance, the plastic athletics track inside the main stadium, the wooden floor of Huanglong Sports Center gymnasium, and the swimming pool should only be opened to the public if protective measures are in place.
If venues with grass surfaces are used for training by professional sports teams, those teams will be responsible for the maintenance. Large-scale concerts or cultural performances will not be allowed to be staged on such surfaces.
Fang Xiaoying in Hangzhou contributed to this story.