The Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park was the site of the rowing, canoeing, and 10km open-water swimming events during the 2008 Beijng Summer Olympics. Audiences roared as canoes raced neck and neck, rowboats zoomed around the track, and swimmers vied for first place. The Water Cube, also previously the site of aquatic Olympic sports, has been able to enjoy a certain amount of prosperity. But how does the Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park stack up to its bubbly brother?
Unfortunately, there really isn’t much of a comparison; while one can usually hear the sound of childish laughter emanating from the Water Cube, the only sound coming from the bubble-blasted edifice’s silent sibling is the empty echo of lost opportunity. Although various events have been held at the site, such as a celebration of the 2012 Dragon Boat Festival, it doesn’t seem that the Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park has yet found a consistent purpose. It frequently sits derelict, water drained from the once sparkling tracks.
Other attempts to enliven the area have also resulted in failure. After the end of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Shunyi District made the decision to invest RMB 300 million to build various motor sport facilities. But though the venue opened in October of 2010 and hosted a round of the 2010 Superleague Formula season, said round was a non-championship one. This was due to the track failing to gain the required FIA Grade 2 status required in order to host a championship event.
On the bright side, the area has found new life as a venue for sailing lessons. Clubs like Beijing Aofan Sailing Club have taken of the legacy of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and turned it into a selection of courses and memberships geared towards both individuals and families. Visitors can also take part in other water sports, such as kayaking.
Although the government previously planned to convert the area into a resort of some sort, such plans have apparently been dropped – at least for the time being. For now, you can still hear the sounds of merriment as kids and teens drop in for an afternoon sailing lesson.
Just in time for the 2012 London Summer Olympics, this post is part of a series called “Where Are They Now?”, which explores what became of four 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics venues: The Bird’s Nest, The Water Cube, the Beach Volleyball Ground at Chaoyang Park, and Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park. This is the final installment of the series.
Photos (in order of appearance): Gerry Boudens via Wikimedia Commons and Feng