The organizers of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics started 10 days of testing Thursday for the hockey and other indoor venues.
A curling mixed doubles competition was held at the refashioned “Water Cube," where an ice surface has been laid over the pool that hosted the swimming events at the 2008 Olympics.
Men's hockey players practiced at the nearby National Indoor Stadium, another venue built for the 2008 Games. Figure skating and speedskating venues will also be given a run-through during the April 1-10 test events.
China has limited experience running a high-level ice hockey tournament, so the test event provides an opportunity to fine-tune efforts to meet Olympic standards in facilities management and services for athletes, said Pan Zhongming, deputy director of operations for the National Indoor Stadium.
“We need to improve in those areas as we have a big gap with the ice sports powerhouses," he said.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, only Chinese athletes are participating in the test events, which normally would attract top international competitors who want to get a feel for the venues before the Olympics.
Questions remain about whether and how the Olympics should be held amid the pandemic. This year's Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to go ahead, but without any fans from overseas. Beijing organizers have pledged a safe Olympics, but have not announced details yet on any virus-related restrictions that might be put in place.
China has strict rules that limit who can come into the country. Anyone who does, with very limited exceptions, must quarantine for 14 days in a designated hotel. Journalists covering the test events were required to get temperature checks before entering the venues and wear face masks inside.