File Photo: This handout image shows the mascots of the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 (from L to R) Chenchen, Congcong and Lianlian, unveiled by the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC) in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, April 3, 2020. (Xinhua/HAGOC)
Welcoming the two-year countdown to the opening of the 19th Asian Games on Thursday, host city Hangzhou exudes confidence of delivering an Asiad that has "Chinese grandeur, Zhejiang style and Hangzhou flavor."
From venues and infrastructure construction to marketing, from cultural activities planning to Games promotion, Hangzhou has made steady progress since it was awarded the hosting rights in September 2015.
Chairman of the Olympic Coucil of Asia (OCA) Coordination Committee Raja Randhir Singh lauded Hangzhou 2022's preparations upon hearing their reports during the third Coordination Committee virtual meeting earlier this week.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we will have a great Asian Games - one of the finest we have had," he said.
WADING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
Along the Qiantang river, a butterfly is fluttering over a lotus - that is the view formed by the Natatorium of the Hangzhou Olympic & Expo City standing a stone's throw from the main stadium for the 2022 Asian Games.
Inside the venue for swimming and diving, Tian Youli is shoveling concrete with sweat dripping down his face.
"Concrete pouring must be done all at once, so it's common for us to work continuously for more than 10 hours. In order to catch up the schedule, we have to fight!" he said with a smile.
The Natatorium is one of the 12 newly-built competition venues. 42 of the 53 venues are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.
Faced with unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC) established a special panel to coordinate the supply of materials with relevant departments, as well as identify and solve technical problems with contractors.
With shuttle buses being arranged for the commuting of workers, by March, work resumed in all 40 venues under construction with nearly all workers returning to their posts, and instead of lagging behind, the progress is ahead of the schedule by 9.4 percent.
HAGOC confirmed to the Coordination Committee that the Games venues are expected to be completed in March 2021 and test events can take place from June 2021.
"Despite the impact brought by the COVID-19 outbreak, we will stick with our goals, and we are confident we will finish the work as scheduled and up to high standard," Li Shenfei, deputy director of the HAGOC Venues Department, told Xinhua.
Hangzhou 2022 also embraced multiple milestones amid the fight against the pandemic.
In April, mascots for the Asian Games Congcong, Lianlian and Chenchen, inspired by Hangzhou's three World Heritage sites, namely the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu Culture, the West Lake and the Grand Canal, were unveiled online, followed by the release of Asian Para Games slogan "Heart Meets, Dream Shines" and mascot "Feifei," inspired by the motif of the "Divine Bird" in the Liangzhu Culture.
Financing for the Games is also robust, as a batch of domestic enterprises including automaker Geely, e-commerce giants Alibaba and sportswear manufacturer 361sport have inked sponsorship deals with the HACOG.
BETTER CITY, BETTER LIFE
Under the blazing sun, the construction of the Hangzhou West Railway Station is well underway. The comprehensive transportation hub that integrates multiple means of transportation, and expected to have its underground structure finished by August, is a key support project for the Games.
The station is a part of Hangzhou's grand plans to step up the infrastructure of the city, along with the building of Terminal 4 of the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, more express ways and high ways, as put forward in April by an Action Plan that highlights building a healthy city, promoting internationalization, improving infrastructure, protecting lucid waters and lush mountains, and empowering digital governance.
With the Asian Games as a catalyst for investment and infrastructure construction, Hangzhou 2022 hopes to leave a lasting legacy for the residents.
The Gongshu District Chengxi Sports Park Stadium and Gymnasium, which will host table tennis and hockey competitions, is under renovation into an urban village. Covering 46 hectares, it will be the largest sports park in the city that enables the public to relive the memories of the Asian Games, experience the canal culture and participate in sports trainings.
"One more good place to exercise. Quite a bonus the Asian Games brings to our residents," said Wu Jianhua, who lives next to the park.
More sports parks will be built in the future to ensure people can access sports facilities within a 10 minute walk and an Asian Games-themed park will be found in every district and county of Hangzhou, which will "rely on its people for a successful Asian Games, which in turn benefit the people," the Action Plan specified.
SMART GAMES, SMART CITY
Imagine when you come to a venue, City Brain management system provides you a smart parking service with contactless payment systems. Then you walk past the security check featuring state-of-the-art human 3D biometric technology that automatically identifies the crowd and detects prohibited items. Once cleared, you sit down and enjoy the match with 5G and VR technology, having an immersive 360 degree watching experience.
That's the scene envisioned by official partners China Telecom and China Mobile, who will provide telecommunication service during the Games, but only silhouettes Hangzhou's plan to deliver a smart Asian Games.
Thirty intelligence solutions in 10 key areas were unveiled in August to improve the operational efficiency of the Games and provide athletes, spectators and tourists with top-notch services.
Relying on the cloud technology of Alibaba, Hangzhou 2022 strives to become the first "Asian Games in the Cloud," using cloud intelligent technology in core systems including event management, event results, and event support.
"'Smart Games' will be a golden name-card for Hangzhou 2022, and we are committed to staging a sport and cultural extravaganza that is successful, excellent, satisfying and unforgettable," said Chen Weiqiang, deputy secretary-general of the HAGOC and vice mayor of Hangzhou.
Two years ago, an invitation was sent to the world - "Welcome to Hangzhou". Two years to go, the city is determined to honor its promises of a "Green, Smart, Economical and Ethical" Games in 2022.
Aerial photo taken on Feb. 20, 2020 shows the construction site of the Beizhijiang Asian Games venue at Fuyang District of Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province. (Xinhua/Xu Yu)