The renovation of Beijing’s National Aquatics Center, known as the “Water Cube” during the 2008 summer Olympic Games, has been completed, making the renamed “Ice Cube” the first venue to be declared ready for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Confirmation has come from the Beijing Major Projects Construction Headquarters Office. Just a few days ago, the seventh competition schedule was released by the organizing committee and revealed curling will provide the kickoff and wrap-up.
The renovation work of the “Ice Cube” covered an area of more than 12 acres, and involved waterproofing, lighting and ventilation as well as a makeover of the athlete facilities.
In addition, an underpass was built to allow for trips between the Ice Cube and the ice sports centre. More spectator seating was also installed, with nearly 1,500 new seats raising the total capacity to 4,598.
The process of “water ice conversion” – turning a four-lane swimming pool into four sheets of curling ice – has been shortened from 45 days to 11 days. Beijing 2022 will mark the first time in Olympic history the curling events will be played on a block of movable ice.
The ice-making system enables conversion materials to be reused, and the transformation costs effectively reduced. The facility, which includes a second ice pad for curling promotion, is expected to open to the public by the end of the year.
Two 2021 world curling championship events, the world juniors and world wheelchairs, were slated to be the official venue test events, but the planned February and March championships were recently cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Curling Federation is now in discussions with Beijing 2022 organizers regarding the implementation of an adapted sports testing programme to replace the test events.
The news comes a year after the Ice Cube’s first successful event-based curling test. After an initial year of construction, the China Open junior tournament was hosted over six days in early December of 2019. Twenty men’s and women’s teams took part with no major ice surface problems reported.