Winter Sports

Beijing to host 2022 Winter Olympics – another city without snow?

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Beijing’s successful bid to host the Olympics means it will become the first city to host both the summer and winter games, although the decision has not gone down too well in many parts.

Human rights groups have described the decision as "a slap in the face" according to BBC Sport, although there is a far more important problem they must overcome – the lack of snow in the Chinese capital. So why did the IOC award the games to Beijing?

A positive history

Beijing did a very good job of hosting the summer Olympics in 2008, with the opening and closing ceremonies deemed some of the best in history, but the IOC had very little choice with where to award the 2022 games.


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Beijing began the race to host as outsiders, due to provisional bids from wintery European cities like Krakow, Oslo and Stockholm were eventually withdrawn.

Furthermore, the next games, in 2018, will be held in PyeongChang (South Korea) and the IOC prefers to avoid hosting consecutive events on the same continent. However, as most candidates withdraw only Beijing and Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan (also in Asia), were left.

Human rights problems

In an attempt to improve credibility, the IOC advertised the reuse of venues from the 2008 games such as the Bird’s Nest Stadium and the Water Cube swimming pool.

Despite this, China’s human rights record is hardly great, with political repression and harassment of government opposition and violations of media freedom still common.

Human Rights Watch called the decision "a slap in the face to China's besieged human rights activists"

Skiing in a desert?

There aren’t mountains in Beijing, so all skiing, snowboarding and sliding events will be held in Yanqing (55 miles from the capital) and Zhangjiakou (100 miles) which is on the edge of the Gobi desert.

The temperature there can range from -40°C to 50°C, which could become problematic. Just the same as Sochi in 2014, tonnes upon tonnes of artificial snow will be used to allow the events to take place, although the IOC noted "Due to the lack of natural snow the look of the venue may not be aesthetically pleasing" according to the BBC website.

There are environmental concerns surrounding the use of artificial snow, something which wouldn’t have been needed in Almaty.

Major opposition to the decision

While the IOC praised the bid, not everyone was quite so complimentary of the decision. China not only needs huge amounts of snow but people to compete in it, and China’s own record in the games isn’t impressive.

Skiing, a blue-ribboned event at the games is still in its infancy in China, and very few professional winter athletes come from its billion strong population.

The Kazakh party accepted the decision graciously: "China has played a significant role in the development of sport in Asia," said bid vice-chairman Andrey Kryukov. "We know that they will deliver a great Games."

Plenty of others will disagree.

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