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23 AUGUST 2014

Where am I? Home Columns Zhenyu Li
 

Beijing Workers' Gymnasium: The Largest Olympic Boxing Arena Ever




By Zhenyu Li - special to SecondsOut.com: There is only one way to get access to the largest Olympic boxing arena ever existed since April 1896 when the very first modern Olympic Games opened, that is, buy a ticket to Beijing.

What are we talking about here? The Beijing Workers’ Gymnasium.

Originally constructed in 1961 for the 26th World Table Tennis Championships, the Beijing Workers’ Gymnasium has a rich history hosting sporting events. It drew acclaim, at that time, as a national sports icon and a spectacular indoor gymnasium for several major sporting events such as the World Table Tennis Championships, the World Volleyball Championships and the Basketball International Invitational.

The Beijing Workers’ Gymnasium, which has been thoroughly renovated and expanded in order to host the event of boxing in Beijing Olympics, just successfully hailed the first boxing match (57k) on 9th, August, 2008. The arena with a historical back ground gracefully took off the veil and made a pretty in display of revitalized beauty to the whole world.

For the requirements of the times and a relative huge demand of audience seats, considering the large population of the host nation, the seating capacity of Beijing Workers’ Gymnasium is 13,000, of which 12,000 are permanent while the remaining 1,000 are temporary and would be removed when the Olympics culminate. There are an additional 240 journalist seats, 30 VIP seats, and a VIP lounge. Thus the gym comes out to be the largest Olympic boxing arena in the Modern Olympic history.


The venue is round-shaped, like an amphitheatre, with drama in the middle, and audience all around to watch it. Orange red and bright yellow colored seats now highlight the arena. These two stimulating colors are used to turn up the heat of the fight.

Accompanied by the boxing operations manger of Beijing Olympic Committee, I was deeply impressed by another spotlight of Beijing Workers’ Gymnasium - the variety of barrier-free improvements, including wheelchair ramps at the entrances and barrier-free restrooms in the spectator, VIP, and athlete areas. Additionally, wheelchair accessible seating areas will be located on the floor, near the competition area.

When it comes to the Green Olympics concept, one of the four main themes of the Beijing Olympic Games, the decoration of the gym cannot be ignored. Windows made of an environmentally friendly aluminum alloy are energy efficient, and the ventilation, lighting and electrical equipment were all updated.

Given the fact that there will be a large number of people indoors, safety issues were also in consideration. For instance, new structural reinforcements could withstand an earthquake of up to eight-magnitude.

As AIBA official Richard Baker put it, “The change and atmosphere of the setup here are absolutely dynamic. It’s international level.”

I’d say it not only reaches the international level, but owns the largest size. We can’t help but wait for it to witness a whole new legend.



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