17/04/2024
Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games are 100 days away. (Photo: Beijing2022 - Twitter)

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games is set to start on February 4 with Australian athletes looking to build form through training and competition throughout the next 100 days in the leadup.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games has reached a new milestone in its preparation to host an event like no other, today marking 100 days out from the start of competition on February 4.

Celebrating the achievement and the hard work of the Australian Olympic Team in advance of their ongoing qualification processes, the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia has reflected on the journey towards Beijing 2022 already, and the proceedings that are yet to come for an Olympic Games that differs greatly from any other.

The Australian Olympic Team’s Chef de Mission Geoff Lipshut formally announced the important milestone towards next year’s event at a press conference held at O’Brien Icehouse, signifying the crucial time for the athletes and their teams.

“It’s an exciting milestone, 100 days until the Beijing Winter Olympics,” Lipshut told media.

“In just 100 days, the cauldron will be lit in Beijing to open the Winter Olympic Games. We’re getting very close.

“With 100 days to go, Australian athletes around the world are doing everything they can to qualify to represent our country at the highest level.

“It’s a crucial time for athletes in their Olympic journeys with key qualification World Cup events coming up very quickly. This is the most intense 100 days of the entire four-year quad for all of our athletes, coaches and support staff.”

Many of Australia’s athletes are already in other parts of the world, training for and competing in their respective World Cup events in their own disciplines, which form the basis of their road to qualification.

Lipshut detailed the array of events that athletes would be competing at in Beijing, including how they were preparing – especially Australia’s curling team of Dean Hewitt and Tahli Gill who are aiming to be the country’s first-ever Olympic athletes in the sport.

“As of this week, bobsled and skeleton athletes have just tested the Olympic venue in Beijing, snowboarders and skiers are training in Switzerland, figure skaters in Russia, short track speed skaters are also in China, and the curlers are in Canada,” he outlined.

“The Beijing Games will also feature new events including snowboard cross relay, which our Australians Belle Brockhoff and Jarryd Hughes are the current world champions and monobob which Bree Walker, our best bobsled pilot, has had a lot of success.”

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Joining Lipshut at the announcement were Mogul skiers Britt Cox and Brodie Summers who are vying for their fourth and third Olympic Games respectively.

For Cox, she echoed Lipshut’s earlier comments regarding the athletes heading into the most intense period of the Olympic season but had faith that she and the others in the Australian team had the tools to compete against the best in the world.

“The next 100 days are the most intense out of the four-year Olympic quad,” Cox mentioned.

“We actually depart overseas on the first of November so heading away to train on snow and get as much experience and training on a Mogul course as we can before the World Cup season kicks off at the start of December.

“And then, once that starts we’re pretty much competing every week, through until the Games so it’s going to be a busy schedule but I always say to people, competition day is my favourite day so I’m looking forward to getting as many days competing as I can before Beijing.”

With Summers, the chance to showcase the amount of talent on the Australian Olympic Team, he hopes the Winter Olympics can have the same effect as the Summer Olympics and that the nation will rally behind its athletes.

“I think that’s one of the brilliant things about sport is that sport is one of those few things that really brings the world together,” Summers commented.

“From Australia’s perspective, and I think you could see it internationally as well, that [Tokyo 2020] Olympic Games showed that we can come out of something as challenging as what COVID has been.

“I think it’s been that kind of light that everyone needed to look towards to kinda shine down on what was some pretty dark times in the last 18 months or so hopefully we can do the same in Beijing and get everyone excited and put on a great spectacle for the world.”

Mogul skiers Britt Cox (left) and Brodie Summers (middle) talk to Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Geoff Lipshut (right). (Photo: Jason Irvine)

Lipshut was humbled by the fact he, the Australian team and the world had already seen COVID-Safe measures be used and utilised in a large-scale, global event such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games earlier this year. He says that many of the procedures that worked in that period would translate into Beijing 2022 also.

“The Beijing playbooks were released by the organisers on Monday. They set out the key steps of keeping our athletes, team and Chinese public safe in this environment,” he said.

“It’s important to note that these measures are tried and tested, in Tokyo this year, and they worked. The AOC took 1000 athletes and support staff to Japan, observed the rules, and not one infection.

“We are also taking every opportunity to learn from the experiences of the Tokyo team. There’s a lot of common sense involved and the release of these playbooks is another important step towards Beijing and making sure our team can operate safely and are able to focus on their performance when it counts.”

Similar measures will be in place for Beijing 2022 as they were for Tokyo 2020 in the sense of athletes will be required to enter and exit the village within days of their events beginning and ending.

“Since the playbook was just released we found out it would be a similar protocol to the Tokyo Summer Olympics where we’ll arrive within five days of our event and we’ll be leaving within about 48 hours of competing,” Cox said.

“We’re leaving overseas on November first and we’ll be away all the way until the end of the Games in Beijing so it’s a long time away from home but I’ll be skiing almost every day up until the Games so I’m doing something that I love and I’m really excited about that.

“I think after watching Tokyo and just seeing the support that Australia had behind the athletes competing there, I’m looking forward to experiencing that.”

Lipshut was sentient of the ability for Australia to go overseas and compete at the Winter Olympics in February, remaining wary of knowing just how special it was for the team to have the opportunity and be a part of the event.

The Chef de Mission remained conscious of the job he had in ensuring athletes’ safety at the Games and hopes it unites the country once again, and showcase the best of the winter sports, and athletes.

“Our Olympic team is focused on the performance, providing the best athletes that we have to have their best opportunity in China… to do sport and athletes will have the best opportunity to do their sport when it counts,” he said.

“I actually haven’t felt a lot of trepidation about our athletes feeling about going to the Olympics. What the athletes look forward to is having their opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games.

“We are on this Olympic journey together, and we can’t wait to show the world what Australian winter athletes can achieve with everyone’s support in Beijing next year. With a similar timezone, I know the Australian public will get behind our winter team next year.

“We saw how the performance and character of the Tokyo team was able to bring Australia together in support of those fantastic athletes and their efforts during the pandemic. I’m so excited for Australia to get to know our athletes as they strive to qualify over the next 100 days and ultimately, represent our country next year in Beijing.”

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