Beijing’s ‘Ice Cube’ is set to be at around one-fifth capacity for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, according to Yang Qiyong, general manager of the venue.

The venue, more famously known as the Water Cube, was developed to stage aquatics events for Beijing’s staging of the 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has been repurposed to host curling as a 4,600-seat arena for Beijing 2022 and became the first venue ready for the Games when renovations were completed in November 2020.

Chinese fans are set to be able to attend next year’s Winter Olympics after COVID-19 guidelines for the Games were released in September, but ticketing details have yet to be released. However, speaking to China’s Global Times newspaper, Yang said: “For the Winter Olympic curling events in the main competition area in the Ice Cube, attendance is expected to be no more than 1,000 people.”

Instead of completely redeveloping the arena, Beijing 2022 chose to conduct it with “traditional Chinese wisdom” to retain the Summer Olympic memories, Sun Weihua, head of the curling renovation project of the Water Cube, said. 

Sun continued: “The International Olympic Committee initially suggested that we fill in the main pool and turn it into an ice rink. But given that the pool has captured the memories of many athletes and spectators over the years, we wanted to keep it.”

Sun said the arena is now the only such facility in the world that can switch “between water and ice.” Its pool and ice rink can be swapped over in 19 days.

Following the Winter Olympics, the arena will rotate through the year serving the general public according to the summer and winter sports seasons.

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