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Panasonic to freeze Beijing Olympic pool into rink

2008 swimming venue 'Water Cube' to host curling in 2022

From "Water Cube" to ice cube: Beijing's swimming venue for the 2008 Olympics will be converted to an ice surface for curling during the 2022 Winter Games.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- A Panasonic refrigeration system will make the ice surface for the curling venue at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, as the company branches out into large-scale products used for sports venues and logistics chains in China.

Beijing is converting the pool at the aquatics center known as the "Water Cube" -- one of the venues during the 2008 Summer Olympics -- into the curling rink for the upcoming Winter Games.

Panasonic already has delivered the refrigeration machine, Sadaaki Yokoo, vice president of the Japanese group's China & Northeast Asia Company, told reporters here Thursday. The price of the machine has not been announced.

The company has focused on freezer equipment for supermarkets or commercial kitchens domestically. But Panasonic decided to pursue inroads into larger-scale systems in China, where many new skating rinks and ski slopes are popping up ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

These systems were developed locally based on technology in the company's showcase freezers. Panasonic also began taking orders related to cold storage warehouses and snow machines, and is developing refrigerated trucks in partnership with a local commercial vehicle maker.

Panasonic ships about 2 trillion yen ($18.3 billion) worth of merchandise a year in China. It plans to expand operations in the country to drive groupwide growth.

The refrigeration business is expected to produce revenue of 31 billion yen in China this year. Panasonic aims to double the figure in 2025.

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