Guests and dignitaries attend the World Winter Sports Expo on Thursday in Beijing. Photo: Lu Wenao/GT

The 2019 World Winter Sports Expo kicked off in Beijing on Thursday, with the aim to boost winter sports popularity and push forward white sports industry in China.

The four-day expo, held annually since 2016 in the Chinese capital after Beijing won the 2022 Winter Olympic Games bid in 2015, is expected to draw around 160,000 visitors this year, organizers said.

China’s winter sports organizations, as well as international winter sports-related equipment providers, are taking the major pavilions.

With the support and cooperation from the International Olympics Committee and federations of seven winter Olympic sports, the event helps promote the development of the winter sports industry in China and the world. It has now become the largest world-leading exposition of winter sports.

The main pavilion belongs to Finland, a European winter sports powerhouse who is named the “guest country of honor.�?Finland is enjoying a theme year of winter sports with China as the two countries are jointly promoting activities to boost cooperation.

In a congratulatory video, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said cooperation between China and Finland will continue even after the games.

Chinese national winter sports teams, including ice hockey and cross-country skiing, have started training in Finland. Several Finn coaches are also included in China’s winter sports teams.

China has vowed to have 300 million Chinese people take up winter sports by 2022 when Beijing becomes the first city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.