Wed, 02 Dec 2020

Media access of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics venues. (Xinhua/submitted by BOCOG organizers)

World participants expressed belief in the professionalism of Beijing Winter Olympics organizers and an amazing event in 2022 after attending the virtual World Press Briefing on updates of the Games from the organizers.

BEIJING, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- The virtual World Press Briefing (WPB) for Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games closed on Thursday, with participants hearing the updates on the Games from the organizers BOCOG.

"With 400 registered members, it was the biggest Winter Games WPB ever, which illustrates the great interest from the world's media for the Beijing 2022," said Anthony Edgar, former head of Media Operations for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and senior consultant with Beijing 2022.

How does the media feel about the four-day WPB and the general preparations of Beijing 2022? Xinhua interviewed some of the participants and they expressed belief in the professionalism of BOCOG and an amazing event in 2022.

Media access of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics venues. (Xinhua/submitted by BOCOG organizers)


This marked the first time the WPB is held online, with the COVID-19 making on-site inspection tour impossible.

During the four-day meeting, the BOCOG briefed the progress in 15 functional areas including media operations, sports, venue construction, registration and technology and head of relating departments answered questions from participants. BOCOG vice president and secretary-general Hang Zirong presented throughout the conference.

"I think that the commitment of Beijing 2022 trying to deliver high standard services and facilities to the media is testified by the table that we see, with the top management of BOCOG participating at the opening of this world press briefing," current IOC Media Operations chief Lucia Montanarella said during her opening remarks on Monday.

Julia Vynokurova, Head of Media Operations for Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games, believed the virtual form made it possible for wider participation and should be carried on for future Games.

"Holding the WPB online meant that more media could benefit from the briefing - not just the big agencies and newspapers, but also freelance photographers and sports journalists from all over the world, who previously could not afford to attend in person," she said.

Some others preferred a visit in reality which would enable them to see things with their own eyes and meet people face to face.

"Compared to the original 'live WPB' we don't have the connections, proximity and easy exchange as usual. Everything is details, distances, meters centimeters, atmosphere and overviews... but it's a base to work and hope to be ready for the next live Venue Tour," said Vincent Amalvy, AFP head of Special Operations.

His comment was echoed by Michael Heiman, vice president of Global Editorial Operations of Getty Image and Shinsuke Kobayashi, managing director of the Olympic & Paralympic News Office of Kyodo News, and both of them gave credits to the BOCOG for staging the WPB under the challenges brought by the coronavirus.

"I think BOCOG did an amazing job under the circumstances. We are very much looking forward to visiting at some point before the games," Heiman said.

The virtual World Press Briefing (WPB) for Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games was held in Beijing. (Xinhua/submitted by the BOCOG organizers)


To make the virtual meeting more real, the BOCOG combined panorama pictures and 3D stimulation display to bring the venues to the participants, who can take a look at anywhere they are interested with their mouse, introduced Wang Muqing, who is in charge of photo operation in BOCOG.

"The website that showed 360. panoramas of the competition sites, illustrating locations and capacities of photo positions, as well as the view from each of them, was unique and absolutely crucial in the current pandemic realities. It showed photographers exactly what to expect, even though they could not be there in Beijing for a venue tour. This was excellent and a first ever for a WPB," Vynokurova noted.

Kobayashi also hailed the BOCOG's efforts "a great job using technologies effectively and explaining everything remotely."

Technology will also come into help when the Games unveils, with full 5G coverage in place.

"One very significant innovation is that Beijing 2022 will be the first major event in the world, and the first Olympic Games, to use 5G technology operationally. This will be transformative for the media as means of instantaneous global distribution of news and content," Edgar said.

Bob Martin, award-winning photographer for Sports Illustrated and photography consultant to the IOC, was also thrilled to see the technology put into practical use. "All the international news agencies are very excited about the possibilities of 5G in Beijing 2020. It will be mega."

The 5G technology and smaller equipment will enable more interviews to be conducted inside the venues - that's one of the reasons behind Beijing 2022's decision to integrate the the Main Press Center (MPC) and International Broadcasting Center (IBC) into the Main Media Center (MMC), according to Xu Jicheng, head of Beijing 2022's Media Operations Department.

The decision is welcomed by the participants overall, despite a few concerns over less private office space.

"Our jobs change and interactions between writing press and broadcasters is a reality. Both medias are merging more and more. Simple, easier and efficient," Amalvy said.

The coronavirus is an inevitable word in the interviews and despite the uncertainties brought by it, participants had high expectations for Beijing 2022.

"As with anything these last 10 months I worry how the pandemic will impact the games. We are all taking it week by week but we know that BOCOG, the IOC and the IPC will put on an amazing event," Heiman said.

"Beijing will be the first city to ever host both a Summer Olympics and a Winter Olympics. It will be a very historic occasion. Everyone involved in the Olympics looks forward again to the Opening Ceremony in the beautiful 'Bird's Nest' National Stadium," Edgar said. ■

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