China state visit boosts winter sports ties

Finland hopes dozens of winter sport-themed events during the year will give the country a competitive advantage ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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File picture of China's Gao Tingyu at 500m speed skating event at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 / Credit: Beijing 2022

President Sauli Niinistö will lead a delegation of ministers, mayors and business leaders on a state visit to China tomorrow.

It’s a return invitation following the visit to Finland by Chinese premier Xi Jinping in spring 2017, and although there’s some official talks on the agenda the main focus of this week’s visit is to launch the China-Finland Winter Sport Year.

It’s the first such partnership the Chinese have undertaken, and the Finnish government is hoping it leads to commercial opportunities especially with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics coming up soon.

“Finland has a great deal of opportunities and a lot to offer, particularly when it comes to coaching, building venues for winter sports, sports technology, manufacturing sports equipment and teaching physical education in schools” says Sampo Terho (Blue), Finland’s Minister for Sport.

The year-long event “gives Finland significant visibility and a competitive advantage compared to other winter sports countries leading up to the 2022 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics” Terho adds.

Throughout the year there will be more than 60 different events in China and Finland which highlight the sports cooperation including high level competitions and expos.

While the opening ceremony is taking place in Beijing this week, the final events of the year take place in Rovaniemi in December.