Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the launch of the China Finland Year of Winter Sports on 14 January 2019

President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Xi,

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. Your delegation consisted of 38 men and 2 women.

We have witnessed China’s rapid development into one of the leading countries in sports. Your success especially in summer sports has been huge.

Our capital cities, 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 organised.

China Finland Year of Winter Sports which is now being launched will also make history. We are the first country with which you have agreed on such cooperation.

The construction of the China Finland Year of Winter Sports has gone well. Training cooperation is in full swing. Chinese athletes are training in Finland, and there are Finnish coaches working here in China. The thematic year’s programme will include more than 60 different events. Their topics vary from physical education to world-class sports, from coach training to sports technology.

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.

I am sure that in the next few years, China will most certainly be known as a strong winter sports country. Finland will be happy to support your goal to introduce winter sports to hundreds of millions of Chinese. I wish our thematic year the best of luck and success.