Juan Antonio Samaranch is encouraged by the preparations for Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

The chair of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Juan Antonio Samaranch, has praised the local Organising Committee for progress made in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, Samaranch said that "truly remarkable" progress had been made, with multiple venues now complete. 

"Acknowledging the difficult experience this year [2020], the progress being made by Beijing 2022 has been truly remarkable," Samaranch said.

"The preparations for the Games are going extremely well despite all the challenges in the test event programmes due to COVID-19-related restrictions."

Numerous Beijing 2022 test events have been cancelled because of the global health crisis, but organisers insist construction projects have not been impacted.

The World Speed Skating Championships - due to run from February 25 to 28 - was among the cancelled test events.

Organisers report that they have received around a million applications to be Games volunteers, and Samaranch also singled out some of Beijing 2022's sustainability initiatives for praise.

Several Beijing 2022's test events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images
Several Beijing 2022's test events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images

"With 12 competition venues completed and plans for the 'One Year to Go' ceremonies well underway, activities are developing and excitement is really beginning to build up," added Samaranch.

"Using 100 per cent clean energy for the Games venues - for example, natural carbon dioxide as a refrigerant for the ice-making situations is an Olympic first - these are some of the steps to make these Games extremely green, in fact the greenest."

Beijing 2022's official sustainability plan was launched last May and reflects the mission to be "green, open, inclusive and clean".

It also follows Olympic Agenda 2020 - the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement - and is aligned with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Beijing 2022 is due to begin on February 4 in 2022 - less than sixth months after the Tokyo 2020 Closing Ceremony.

Competitions are due to be staged in three main clusters - Beijing itself, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.

Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, should the coronavirus pandemic not prevent the event from going ahead.

A COVID-19 countermeasures working group has been set up for Beijing 2022, following a joint project review by the IOC, International Paralympic Committee and the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee in November.