Gold medal­lists and Bei­jing face same old ques­tions

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

Two of China’s most sto­ried win­ter Olympic ath­letes faced tough ques­tions about Bei­jing bid’s for the 2022 Win­ter Games — namely about air pol­lu­tion and a lack of snow.

Gold medal­list pairs fig­ure skaters Shen Zue and Zhao Hongbo came out of re­tire­ment to win gold at Van­cou­ver in 2010, then re­tired again.

The hus­band and wife are two of the Bei­jing bid’s am­bas­sadors try­ing to con­vince the IOC that the Chi­nese city should be given host­ing rights over Al­maty, Kaza­khstan.

The vote will be here on Fri­day.

On the side­lines of the IOC ex­ec­u­tive board meet­ings on Tues­day, the cou­ple was asked about pol­lu­tion in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal and the lack of snow at the moun­tain venues of Yan­qing and Zhangji­akou. Bei­jing, which hosted the 2008 Olympics, is try­ing to be­come the first city to host a sum­mer and win­ter games.

Shen said many Olympic ski com­pe­ti­tions need ar­ti­fi­cial snow and “that is some­thing that hap­pens at many Win­ter Games.”

“Of­ten it is for the safety of the com­pe­ti­tions and the ath­letes,” Zhao added.

Bei­jing bid of­fi­cial Xu Jicheng, re­spond­ing to per­sis­tent ques­tions about the air qual­ity for com­pet­ing ath­letes, said pol­lu­tion had im­proved since the 2008 Olympics and that will con­tinue in the lead-up to 2022 if Bei­jing gets the games.

“We can prom­ise blue skies and white clouds,” Xu said at a packed news con­fer­ence at a down­town ho­tel.

Other bid of­fi­cials were asked about cor­rup­tion sur­round­ing the bid af­ter last week’s fir­ing of a se­nior Chi­nese sports of­fi­cial.

Xiao Tian was re­moved as a vice min­is­ter of the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sport of China. Xiao was placed un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for pos­si­ble cor­rup­tion in June.

Xiao was also a vice chair­man of China’s Olympic com­mit­tee, and last Septem­ber he was elected as one of three vice-pres­i­dents of FIBA, bas­ket­ball’s world gov­ern­ing body.

On Tues­day, bid spokesman Wang Hui said “cor­rup­tion is a com­mon en­emy.”

“The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion is one of zero tol­er­ance, that is also the wish of all Chi­nese peo­ple,” Wang added. “These cases are ir­rel­e­vant for the bid. They (in­di­vid­u­als) at­tended bid com­mit­tee meet­ings be­cause we wanted broad sup­port. But they as­sumed no re­spon­si­bil­i­ties what­so­ever.”

Also, Kazakh Prime Min­is­ter Karim Mass­si­mov ar­rived in Kuala Lumpur to lead Al­maty’s del­e­ga­tion.

As the 15 mem­bers of the IOC ex­ec­u­tive board be­gan meet­ing, they dis­cov­ered that Bos­ton dropped out of the bid­ding for the 2024 Olympics.

AP PHOTO

China’s Olympic gold medal­list fig­ure skat­ing pair Shen Xue, right, and Zhao Hongbo, speak to the media dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,Tues­day.

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