(Bloomberg Markets) -- At the 2022 Winter Olympics, elite athletes will ski, slide, and glide over a former pollution problem in China’s capital city.

In the Shijingshan District, once the manufacturing heart of Beijing, Shougang Group Co.’s steel mill used to be a major contributor to urban smog. But the state-owned steel company closed the plant more than a decade ago, and the area has been renovated into a gleaming Olympic venue.

The gates shown here (first photo) once stood at the mill’s entrance. They were refurbished and moved to this Olympic recreational park, where visitors can stroll along a skywalk with views of industrial remnants such as the plant’s old chimneys and furnaces. The structures provide a dramatic backdrop for the games, scheduled for Feb. 4-20.

Over at the nearby Big Air Shougang arena, the only snow event venue in the city, the world’s top freestyle skiers and big air snowboarders will hurtle down ramps set off the side of cooling towers that exceed 70 meters (230 feet) in height. This is the Olympic debut for big air skiers, who compete in landing gravity-defying jumps and flips.

The breathtaking feats won’t change one important truth: China faces serious challenges in meeting its climate change commitments while continuing to increase industrial output. Steel plants have closed in some urban areas to improve air quality for city dwellers—but they’ve reopened elsewhere in the country to meet growing demand. Steelmaking contributes 7% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, and, as the world’s leading steel producer, China plays a major role in the industry’s impact on the planet.


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