Anxiety as unsnowy Beijing to host Winter Games
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.