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Hangzhou well prepared, eager for Asian Games

By Sun Xiaochen| China Daily| Updated: April 28, 2023 L M S

With all the venues completed and test events underway, Hangzhou is closing out its preparations for the 19th Asian Games as the city embraces hosting the continental sports gala as a boost for its international image.

With less than five months to go before an estimated 30,000 athletes, coaches and officials land in Hangzhou from across Asia, the Chinese organizers of the Asian Games have drawn confidence from solid preparatory work in venue readiness, service planning and operational tests, and are confident that the games will be a lifelong experience for all participants.

"Hangzhou has been all set," said Chen Weiqiang, executive secretary-general of the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee, during a news briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

As the first mega international sporting event to be held in China in the post-pandemic era, the Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, which was delayed by a year due to COVID-19, plays an instrumental role in presenting the city's dynamic image, promoting international exchange and contributing to China's goal of developing into a world sports powerhouse, said Chen, who is also a vice-mayor of Hangzhou.

The perennial sporting extravaganza will be held at 56 competition venues in Hangzhou and five other surrounding co-host cities in Zhejiang from Sept 23 to Oct 8, featuring a comprehensive program of 483 medal events of 40 Olympic and non-Olympic sports.

The Asian Games, arguably the world's largest sports event for its participant number and inclusive program, is making a return to China after being held in Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.

All the competition venues, including 12 new projects and 31 training venues, have been completed. A total of 50 test events, with some having taken place already, are expected to help organizers fine-tune facilities and improve operations, according to Chen.

With a fully open approach, unlike the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics that adopted a "bubble" management of participants, Hangzhou 2022 has already received registration requests from 18,000 athletes, who will be accommodated at the Asian Games village consisting of 108 residential buildings.

Considerate services to address the diversities in religion, dietary habits and overseas guests' interests in exploring the city while experiencing Chinese culture have all been thoroughly planned and prepared, according to Huang Haifeng, a deputy secretary-general of the Hangzhou 2022 organizing committee.

A three-day Chefs de Mission Seminar for the games concluded in the city on Thursday, with the majority of representatives of 45 participating countries and regions leaving convinced that the event will be a resounding success, according to Chen.

"After visiting our venues, a lot of the delegation officials hailed the conditions of the facilities as world-class," said Chen.

To further promote the games as well as Chinese culture, a series of milestone celebrations will be organized, such as the release of the games' medal design at the 100-day countdown on June 15, a live concert of Hangzhou 2022-themed songs at the opening ceremony stadium next month and a torch relay that involves online participants a month before the opening.

International spectators will be allowed direct entry into China, visa-free, as long as they purchase competition tickets via official outlets, according to the organizing committee.

To help make the games a sustainable event with lasting legacy, organizers and property owners have developed post-games business operation models for about 90 percent of the venues.

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