Anx­i­ety as un­snowy Bei­jing to host Win­ter Games

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

The IOC has cho­sen Bei­jing as the host city for the 2022 Win­ter Olympics.

It will be the first city in Olympic history to host both sum­mer and win­ter Games since Bei­jing al­ready hosted the 2008 Sum­mer Games. We hope Bei­jing will ex­pend all pos­si­ble ef­forts in mak­ing per­fect prepa­ra­tions.

Bei­jing won a one-to-one duel with Kaza­khstan’s Al­maty by stress­ing the sta­bil­ity of its fi­nan­cial re­sources sup­ported by the main­land Chi­nese author­i­ties and a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in or­ga­niz­ing in­ter­na­tional ath­letic events.

Host­ing the Win­ter Olympics has a public ap­proval rat­ing of 92 per­cent in China. Leader of the main­land author­i­ties Xi Jin­ping ap­par­ently in­tends to main­tain his gov­ern­ment’s lead­er­ship and boost the na­tion’s pres­tige by host­ing an Olympiad again.

Mean­while, there are many wor­ries about Bei­jing’s plan to host the Olympics. First, Bei­jing re­ceives only light snow each win­ter. Com­pe­ti­tions to be held within the city will mainly be skat­ing events. Skiing and other events are planned to be held in Zhangji­akou, He­bei Province, lo­cated next to Bei­jing. How­ever, Zhangjiak- ou has to rely on ar­ti­fi­cial snow that is in­fe­rior in qual­ity to nat­u­ral snow.

To make a huge amount of ar­ti­fi­cial snow, wa­ter from a reser­voir will be used. Though the del­e­ga­tion from Bei­jing stressed at the IOC ple­nary meet­ing that it will hardly have an im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment, some ex­perts pointed out the pos­si­bil­ity of neg­a­tive ef­fects on wa­ter re­sources.

Many Prob­lems Ahead

Also, deep con­cerns are ex­pressed over Bei­jing’s air pol­lu­tion.

When it hosted the 2008 Olympic Games, the city de­cided to en­force heavy-handed traf­fic con­trols and to sus­pend oper­a­tions of fac­to­ries to show the world a blue sky.

Bei­jing Mayor Wang An­shun told IOC mem­bers this time that the city is work­ing hard to be a clean-energy city. But, it re­mains a ques­tion how much the air pol­lu­tion will be re­duced in the next seven years.

Though the city has var­i­ous prob­lems, the right to host the 2022 Games has rolled into Bei­jing be­cause other promis­ing cities, such as Oslo, pulled out of the bid­ding race one af­ter another.

A huge fi­nan­cial bur­den is the main rea­son why more and more cities are be­com­ing hes­i­tant to bid to host a Win­ter Olympics. Rus­sia spent a huge amount of money, said to be 5 tril­lion yen (US$40 bil­lion), on the 2014 Sochi Olympics. This no doubt has made more cities back away from bid­ding to host a Win­ter Games.

The costs of build­ing a ski jump and cour­ses for sled­ding events such as bob­sled­ding for a Win­ter Games are huge. They are likely to be a neg­a­tive legacy be­cause fewer users are ex­pected at them af­ter the Olympics com­pared to venues for a Sum­mer Games.

But the Sum­mer Games are also grow­ing ex­pen­sive. For in­stance, Bos­ton de­cided to exit the bid­ding to host the 2024 Sum­mer Olympics. The IOC has nat­u­rally be­come con­cerned over the sit­u­a­tion and launched an Olympic re­form urg­ing uti­liza­tion of ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties to re­duce fi­nan­cial bur­dens on host cities.

Asian cities are now set to host two Win­ter Olympic Games in a row, with Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018 and Bei­jing in 2022. Sap­poro has al­ready an­nounced its bid to host the 2026 Win­ter Olympics. If it is named an of­fi­cial can­di­date of Ja­pan, Sap­poro will need to make strate­gic bid­ding ef­forts. This is an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished by The Yomi­uri Shim­bun on Aug. 2.

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