Beijing’s National Speed Skating Oval, which will host competitions during the city’s winter Olympic Games next year, staged its first event over the weekend.

The venue, which has been dubbed the ‘Ice Ribbon’, hosted a speed skating test event with athletes from China, South Korea and the Netherlands taking part across 12 competitions.

The arena was built on the site of a temporary venue that was used to host field hockey events during Beijing’s staging of the summer Olympics in 2008. The temporary arena had a capacity of around 17,000, with the new venue able to host up to 12,000 fans.

The weekend’s ‘Meet in Beijing’ Speed Skating China Open marked the first international test event for the Beijing 2022 Olympics, which will run from February 4-20. The ‘Ice Ribbon’ becomes the largest skating venue in Asia. After the Games it will be opened up to the general public.

“This event reminds me of August 8, 2007, 14 years ago, when Beijing 2008 Olympic test event the International Hockey Invitational was held right here on this piece of land,” Wu Xiaonan, chairman of the National Speed Skating Oval, said, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

“That temporary summer Olympic venue now has turned into an iconic winter Olympic stadium, called ‘Ice Ribbon’. From the Beijing summer Olympic Games to the winter Games that will be hosted by Beijing together with Zhangjiakou, Beijing, the city of two Olympic Games will carry on the magnificence of the Olympics.”

It was confirmed last month that Chinese fans would be able to attend the Beijing 2022 Games. Tickets will be sold exclusively to spectators residing in China’s mainland who meet the requirements of COVID-19 countermeasures.

Last week, organisers revealed that fans may be permitted to attend some test events in the lead-up to the Games if conditions allow it.

Image: Shinnosuke Ando on Unsplash