Sports exchanges build a bridge of friendship between China and Canada

ABOVE: Ottawa Dragon Boaters use ice picks instead of paddles during Winterlude. (PHOTO: OLM STAFF)

by Cong Peiwu, Chinese Ambassador to Canada

On the clear Dows Lake in Ottawa, a fleet of lightsome dragon boats rushed out of the starting line in the hot summer sun, galloping in the strong and rhythmic drumbeats with exciting cheers”, this is a wonderful scene of a previous Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival as described in the media.

Originating from the Chinese dragon boat culture, the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival has been a popular event for 27 years. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Dragon Boat Festival was not held as scheduled last year, and I am afraid it will not be held this year, either. However, I believe that the dragon boat culture and the dragon boat sport (in either winter or summer!) are deeply inscribed in the heart of the Chinese and Canadian people.

Sport is not only a common language of all mankind, but also carries the dream of national prosperity and rejuvenation. Over the past 70 plus years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese people have become physically stronger through doing sports. Nowadays, sports have been integrated into the daily life of ordinary people in China, and sports have also continuously promoted the healthy growth of young people and social progress. On the streets, in sports venues and recreational parks in China, you will see people doing fitness anytime and anywhere, such as football, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, shuttlecock kicking (a traditional popular folk game), skipping rope, walking, and all kinds of sports. At present, the total number of Chinese people who regularly take part in physical exercise exceeds 400 million, and more than 90 per cent of urban and rural residents meets the national physical fitness standards; fitness facilities are available in more than 3.1 million sports venues across urban and rural areas; and nearly 90 percent of administrative villages are covered by Farmers Fitness Project.

Over the past 70 years, China’s competitive sports have also made brilliant achievements. In track and field, ball games, swimming track, speed skating, snowboarding and other ice and snow events, more and more Chinese athletes have stepped onto the podium. China is a staunch supporter, contributor and practitioner of the International Olympic cause. The motto of “faster, higher and stronger”, the sportsmanship spirit of “mutual understanding, friendship, unity and fair play”, and the ultimate goal of “making contributions to the building of a peaceful and beautiful world”, advocated by the Olympic movement, have always inspired the Chinese people to move forward. The success of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is the realization of century-old dream of the Chinese nation.

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games will be another important contribution of China to the International Olympic Games. Beijing is set to become the world’s first “double Olympic city” as the 2022 Winter Olympics approach. At present, the 12 venues in the three areas of the Winter Olympic Games have been completed as scheduled, the organization of the Games is proceeding in an orderly manner, and the service and support for the Games are advancing in an all-round way. More than 300 diplomatic envoys and diplomats from 123 foreign embassies in China and 11 international organizations in China have been invited to visit the venues of the Beijing Winter Olympics.They highly appreciated the progress made in the preparation of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, and were deeply impressed by the green and low-carbon, scientific and technological innovation, and the perfect combination of Chinese culture and the Olympic spirit embodied in the construction of the venues.

Sarah Lewis, former long-serving General Secretary of the International Ski Federation, praised that “the venues look outstanding, they are state-of-the-art, fully sustainable, have achieved new benchmarks with environmental aspects, and will provide a true legacy for competition sport and recreational snow sports after the Games”. In the face of the COVID-19 and other adverse factors, the Chinese side will make all kinds of preparations as scheduled and be fully prepared to make the Beijing Winter Olympic Games characterized by simplicity, safety and excellence.

Canada is a strong nation of ice and snow sports. It has hosted two Winter Olympic Games and achieved excellent results in the last three Winter Olympic Games. The sports circles of China and Canada have always maintained good relations, and both sides have conducted deep exchanges in Canada's traditional strong sports such as hockey and curling. Not long ago, China curling teams came to the beautiful Calgary and participated in the World Curling Championships. They were deeply impressed by the thoughtful organization and strong support from the organizers.

We are convinced that the epidemic will not stop our sports exchanges, let alone our common aspiration and confidence for a better future. I hope that China and Canada will continue to strengthen cooperation in the preparation of the Winter Olympics and other fields, deepen communication and coordination in international sports, learn from each other, achieve mutual benefit and win-win results, join hands in Beijing and share the splendor of Winter Olympics.