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Olympic venues from 2008 Games are now Beijing icons

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A decade has passed since the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the city's unique attempts at refashioning its Olympic venues have won praise from experts who say the experience could help future host cities.

Making good use of host cities' costly Olympic venues has long been problematic, Yang Tianqiao, an industry analyst at Zhaoyang Sports Culture and Marketing Co, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Just six months after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games, the city's main venue had all but been abandoned, while the 35,000-seat stadium that hosted the opening ceremony for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games has already been demolished, according to a report from the observer.com.

"Beijing is among several Olympic host cities that considered reusing its venues even before construction began and it continues to utilize them and generate revenue," Yang noted.

Beijing's Olympic Stadium, which is known as the Bird's Nest, offers numerous public events throughout the year. Some 35 million visitors have taken a tour of the vast, 100,000-seat stadium. In winter it hosts the annual Bird's Nest Ice and Snow Festival. There's even been talk of hosting an NFL football game at the stadium.

Beijing's National Aquatics Center, which was built for the Beijing Games, became a public water park, but also hosts various entertainment events.

According to data provided by the National Aquatics Center, which is also known as the Water Cube, the facility has received more than 20 million visitors as of the end of 2017, and has hosted more than 1,200 events. Some 2 million swimmers have taken a dip at the Water Cube over the past decade.

"Beijing has been exploring and creating the Chinese experience through the reuse of the Olympic venues in the city," the National Aquatics Center said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

The Beijing Wukesong Culture and Sports Center, an 18,000-seat indoor arena which hosted the 2008 Olympic Games basketball tournament, is now a prime venue for large concerts.

"The utilization rate of our center has reached 70 percent, ranking among the highest in the world." Yuan Yinghui, media director of Huaxi International Culture and Sports Development Co, the operator of the Wukesong Center, told the Global Times.

The center, which has been renamed the Cadillac Arena, will host FIBA 2019 Men's Basketball World Cup, scheduled to be played in eight cities in China, said Yuan.

With Beijing becoming the only city to ever host the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the city's Summer Games' venues are being repurposed to host events for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The Bird's Nest will host the opening and closing ceremony of the Winter Games.

 "To hold the Winter Olympic Games is a classic case of repeated and long-term use of a venue," said the statement from the Water Cube, which will be transformed into the curling venue for the 2022 Games.



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