POSTED: Saturday June 20th 2015

Beijing 2022 adds Olympics touch to traditional Chinese holiday Dragon Boat Festival

Beijing, June 20th - Embracing a spirit of ancient Chinese tradition with a modern Olympics twist, Beijing 2022 has held yesterday night its own Dragon Boat festival called “Coming to the Dinner Table as One Family.” Guests took the opportunity to discuss the bid’s recent presentation to the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland, while partaking in such traditional Dragon Boat festivities as eating zongzi - stick rice treats wrapped in bamboo leaves - and boarding a special boat to light riverside lanterns.

Standing beside the canals of Beijing’s historic Shicha Lake District, Beijing 2022 Director of Communications Wang Hui spoke of the importance of these holidays in Chinese culture, saying: “Public holidays like the Dragon Boat and the Spring Festival are great examples of what would make up the thrilling cultural backdrop of Beijing 2022 - created from millennia of tradition and representing China’s renowned culture that is enjoyed the world over.”

Arriving on the scene in the special Beijing 2022 electric buses - which have been drawing attention around Beijing the past few weeks as they tour the city’s historic landmarks - Beijing 2022’s delegation, led by Director Wang as well as Beijing Municipal Government Communications Deputy Director Xu Hejian, played the official Beijing 2022 presentation video first broadcast for the IOC in Lausanne earlier this month.  Madame Wang shared her thoughts and feelings from the experience in Europe: “A major part of Olympic Agenda 2020 is open and on-going dialogue with the Olympic Family to support bidding for the Games. Given this, we truly appreciate every opportunity we have received to engage the IOC in the merits of our bid and help ensure we present the best possible plan for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2022. 
“We are confident our bid will assure delivery of an outstanding Games that leave a lasting positive impact for Winter sports in China and our discussions with the IOC has only strengthened our bid.” Madame Wang said. “From now up until the end of July, our focus is continuing this beneficial dialogue in the interest of making the bid as strong as it can possibly be.”

With its 5,000 years of history, ancient traditions are of immense significance to Beijing’s population. Bringing the Winter Olympics to Beijing during the year’s most significant holiday - the Spring Festival - will create a dynamic between local, ancient culture and global modern sport. “Spring Festival and Dragon Boat Festival are the special times of year where families and friends can put their busy lives on hold and gather together in celebration,” Wang said. “With Beijing 2022, we eagerly await to welcome the winter sports athletes of the world to join us in this ‘Joyful Rendezvous upon Pure Ice & Snow.’”

After sharing the delegation’s experience in Lausanne, the Beijing 2022 delegation sat down with spectators for a communal banquet “as one family,” in the tradition of many of China’s festivals. While sharing zongzi, Mr. Xu discussed the types of Spring Festival cuisine that would be served at Olympic villages during Beijing 2022, including rice cakes, dumplings and longevity noodles. Each dish brings its own special significance, which warrants its enjoyment during each festival: For example, longevity noodles’ length is meant to symbolize a long and prosperous life (which is why they also tend to be found on the table at many Chinese birthdays). “Food is the cornerstone of celebrations in China and we are excited for it to play an integral part of athletes’ experiences during Beijing 2022,” Mr. Xu said.  After finishing the meal, the team climbed a small boat in Beijing’s Shi Cha Lake per Dragon Festival tradition, lighting special river lanterns as the sun began to set over the ancient city.

Sport has played a symbolic role in the festival, which is typically held to commemorate the passing of revered poet and Minister Qu Yuan (c. 340-278 BC). Upon hearing news of the Qin Dynasty capturing the Chu state (where he was Minister), Qu drowned himself in the Miluo River; legend has it that the local people, who admired Qu so, boarded their boats and raced out to save him. Today, dragon boat races are held on the day of the festival, with teams training months in advance in order to win glory for their school, office, or local community organization.

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