Bei­jing wins ’22 Win­ter Games bid to make Olympic host­ing history

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY TIM WITCHER

Bei­jing on Fri­day nar­rowly won an In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC) vote for the 2022 Win­ter Olympic Games that se­cured its place in sport­ing history.

The Chi­nese cap­i­tal beat Al­maty in Kaza­khstan by just 44 votes to 40, with one ab­sten­tion, to be­come the first city to be awarded the sum­mer and win­ter Games.

Bei­jing held the sum­mer Olympics in 2008 in what was then seen as China seal­ing its place on the world stage as an emerg­ing su­per­power.

This time it had been the strong fa­vorite, pre­sent­ing it­self as a safe pair of hands against un­der­dog Al­maty.

“We rep­re­sent the safest and most re­al­is­tic choice,” said Bei­jing’s mayor Wang An­shun.

But the for­mer cap­i­tal of the Cen­tral Asian re­pub­lic ate into China’s sup­port on the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee with an im­pres­sive “Keep­ing It Real” cam­paign that played on Bei­jing’s re­liance on ar­ti­fi­cial snow and the vast dis­tances be­tween its venues.

China’s bas­ket­ball leg­end Yao Ming and main­land sports min­is­ter Liu Peng leaped to their feet in joy when IOC pres­i­dent Thomas Bach an­nounced the re­sult at a spe­cial ses­sion in Kuala Lumpur.

IOC di­rec­tor-gen­eral Christophe De Kep­per said there were doubts about the “in­tegrity” of the re­sults given by the tablets used for the vote.

But it held up the re­sult and in Bei­jing per­form­ers and uni­formed vol­un­teers also erupted into danc­ing and flag-wav­ing joy as the

Chi­nese cap­i­tal was named.

Vote Sur­prise

“Fi­nally — we won, but it was not easy,” Yao ac­knowl­edged.

“I was very con­fi­dent about this cam­paign, but when the mo­ment came I was still very ex­cited about what we have done,” the for­mer Hous­ton Rock­ets cen­ter told re­porters.

The re­sult sur­prised many IOC mem­bers.

“I al­ways said Al­maty would get more sup­port than peo­ple had ex­pected, but I never thought it would be that close,” said Craig Reedie, a Bri­tish mem­ber of the IOC.

He said IOC vot­ers had been im­pressed by the fi­nal pre­sen­ta­tion by Kazakh prime min­is­ter Karim Mas­si­mov.

Oth­ers said they still pre­ferred the as­sur­ances of­fered by Com­mu­nist China’s gov­ern­ment against oil-rich Kaza­khstan which had been mak­ing its sec­ond bid for the Win­ter Olympics.

Chi­nese main­land leader Xi Jin­ping promised rock solid gov­ern­ment sup­port for Bei­jing if it was cho­sen.

“Let me as­sure you that if you choose Bei­jing, the Chi­nese peo­ple will present to the world a fan­tas­tic, ex­tra­or­di­nary and ex­cel­lent Olympic Win­ter Games,” Xi said in a video mes­sage to the IOC meet­ing.

Some of Bei­jing’s 2008 venues, in­clud­ing its iconic Bird’s Nest na­tional sta­dium will be reused for the 2022 Games.

But it will also make wide­spread use of ma­chine-made snow for out­door events and some of the venues are 200 kilo­me­ters miles) from Bei­jing.

All of Al­maty’s venues are within 30 kilo­me­ters (18 miles) of the city, which the del­e­ga­tion por­trayed as a “win­ter won­der­land” with abun­dant nat­u­ral snow.

Bei­jing has said it will spend US$3.06 bil­lion on run­ning the Games and spe­cial in­fra­struc­ture for the event. That does not in­clude US$5 bil­lion for a high­speed train link from Bei­jing to Zhangji­akou, where many moun­tain events will be held.

Kaza­khstan, which be­came in­de­pen­dent from the for­mer Soviet Union in 1991 but is still run by an au­thor­i­tar­ian pres­i­dent, had sought the Games as a way to stamp its place on the world map.

“We are a golden op­por­tu­nity to prove that smaller ad­vanc­ing na­tions can suc­cess­fully host the Olympic Games,” Kaza­khstan’s prime min­is­ter told the IOC.

Al­maty would stage “a Games that are cen­tered on the needs of ath­letes and sport, not on the needs of (the) host coun­try’s global im­age,” said An­drey Kryukov, vice chair­man of the Al­maty bid com­mit­tee in a veiled dig at China.

Both coun­tries’ hu­man rights records have been con­demned by ac­tivist groups, but no men­tion of rights was made in the IOC de­bate.

Six cities were orig­i­nally in the race to fol­low 2018 hosts Pyeongchang in South Korea.

But af­ter Rus­sia spent more than US$50 bil­lion to stage the 2014 Win­ter Games in Sochi, Oslo, Stock­holm, Krakow in Poland and Lviv in Ukraine all with­drew be­cause of cost fears and lo­cal pol­i­tics.

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