Youngsters participating in the Culture Day at Yang Fang Dian Primary School ©Beijing 2022

An Olympic Culture Day at Yang Fang Dian Primary School in Beijing’s Haidian district has been hailed as a way to emphasise how Beijing's bid for the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics will bring 300 million new participants into winter sport.

This pledge, unveiled shortly before last month's International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission inspection to the Chinese capital, is seen as a core asset of the bid, which remains favourite in a two-horse race with former Kazakhstan capital, Almaty.

It has been dismissed in some quarters, however, as being a good headline more than a realistic target, with the 300 million figure more or less plucked from midair, it is claimed, in a country where winter sport still remains relatively low profile.

Yang Fang Dian, the school founded in 1945 which generated international attention in 2001 when it introduced the first "comprehensive" Olympic education program into its curriculum, focused predominantly on summer sports during its 14th Culture Day, with judo, football and dragon boat racing among those featuring.

But winter sports did play a part, and this year special weekly classes have been held dedicated to Winter Games history, sports and values have been held, as well as a special school outing to the second main venues cluster in Beijing's bid, in the city of Zhangjiakou, 190 kilometres to the northwest.

Here, both students and parents were able to get a "personal taste" of disciplines including Alpine skiing and snowboarding.

The focus of the Olympic Culture Day appeared to be on summer sports,  but the profile of winter disciplines is growing, it is claimed ©Beijing 2022
The focus of the Olympic Culture Day appeared to be on summer sports, but the profile of winter disciplines is growing, it is claimed ©Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022 is seeking to role out these plans across the nation by launching educational activities around the Olympic Values and winter sports knowledge in over 300 thousand educational institutions, from primary schools to universities.

Special educational materials will be produced, they have pledged, as well as an online Olympic Winter Games education resources platform, supported by social media and webinar channels.

“Beijing 2022 will provide for a wide-ranging extension of the Olympic school education program nation-wide, with millions of kids and teenagers offered opportunities to practice winter sports and to learn about the Olympic and Paralympic values," claimed the bid's director of communications, Wang Hui.

"We are confident that, building on the highly successful Beijing 2008’s legacy, Beijing 2022 will bring endless new opportunities for both the Olympic Movement and China."

Officials will now look to build on this increase profile to draw greater attention to their bid, ahead of a Candidate City Briefing in Lausanne on June 9 and 10, with a decision due to be made the following month during the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur on July 31.

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