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President Sauli Niinistö, made a state visit to China, Beijing on January 14-15 with his spouse, Mrs. Jenni Haukio.
One of the themes of the visit was the winter sports cooperation between Finland and China.
In fact, 2019 celebrates the China-Finland Year of Winter Sports.
President Niinistö spoke at the launch of the thematic year.
“We have a long tradition in sports cooperation between Finland and China. It can be considered to have begun in the Helsinki Summer Olympics in 1952, the first time that the People’s Republic of China sent a delegation to the Olympic Games,” President Niinistö said.
According to Niinistö, the world has watched China’s development to one of the leading countries in sports. “Your success, especially in summer sports, has been huge,” Niinistö said.
Niinistö said that the capitals of both countries, Helsinki and Beijing, have “masterfully hosted Summer Olympic Games.” “And you will soon make history: after the 2022 Winter Olympics, Beijing will be the first city in the world where both Summer and Winter Olympics have been organized,” he said.
Niinistö considered the winter sports cooperation historical. “We are the first country with which you have agreed on such cooperation.”
The training has begun. Chinese athletes are training in Finland, Finnish coaches are working in China. The thematic year’s program will include more than 60 different events. Their topics include physical education, world-class sports, coach training, sports technology. And more.
“We should remember, however, that our cooperation in sports is not only for this thematic year. I hope we are also creating something more permanent. Something that will enable our citizens to enjoy even more the various dimensions of winter sports after the Olympics. I believe that through our cooperation we can provide new opportunities to both sports enthusiasts and athletes aiming high,” Niinistö said.
“Finland will be happy to support your goal to introduce winter sports to hundreds of millions of Chinese,” President Niinistö concluded.
On the cover, about 80 children are greeting President Sauli Niinistö and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in China, Beijing, on January 14, 2019. Picture: Matti Porre/Office of the President of Finland