Beijing won a narrow victory over its rival bidder city of Almaty in the vote on Friday to become the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, announced the voting results at the 128th IOC session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, after both candidate cities gave an emphatic assurance of environmental protection and economic goals.
Having staged the Summer Olympics in 2008, the Chinese capital will be the first city ever to host both editions of the Games. It beat Kazakhstan’s Almaty 44-40 in a secret ballot of IOC members.
The decision was met with elation in China, where it is seen as a vote of international support for the nation’s efforts to promote winter sports and maintain sustainable economic development. People from Beijing and Zhangjiakou gathered together on Friday to celebrate the Chinese capital’s winning of the right to host the games.
On hearing the announcement, the gathering places all turned into scenes of jubilation and cheers. Some people were so excited that tears were rolling down their faces. Other people tossed flowers into the air and set off deafening firecrackers.
Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong expressed her warm congratulations to the Beijing bid committee and thanked the whole country for their precious support to Beijing. She also expressed gratitude to all members of the International Olympic Committee and Chinese friends all over the world for supporting Beijing and Zhangjiakou to host the winter games.
“We will regard this success as a start,” she said. “And we will make greater efforts to make our country stronger and more prosperous and present a fabulous and excellent Winter Olympics.”
The three major complexes for the 2022 Games will be located in downtown Beijing, the suburban Yanqing County in the city’s northwest, as well as Zhangjiakou in neighboring Hebei Province.
Five out of the six venues proposed in the Beijing downtown area are already in place, including the iconic Beijing National Stadium (nicknamed “Bird’s Nest”) and the National Aquatics Center (also known as the “Water Cube”). These venues will host all the ice events.
The only new facility in the downtown area will be the National Speed Skating Oval, a permanent venue for speed-skating competitions.
Snow sports will take place at the National Alpine Ski Center and the National Sliding Center, both of which are still under planning in the mountainous regions of Yanqing and will be developed into high-level training bases and tourism centers after the Games.
The rest of the snow events will be held at the new Nordic and Biathlon Center as well as the refurbished Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, around 200 kilometers northwest of Beijing.
The three complexes will be connected by new expressways and an intercity high-speed railway. It will take less than an hour to commute between any two venues.
Chinese President delivers speech on Beijing’s bid for 2022 Winter Olympics
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a letter of appreciation to IOC President Thomas Bach on Friday evening, expressing thanks to IOC for its trust and support in selecting Beijing together with Zhangjiakou as the host of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
“Today, Beijing together with Zhangjiakou has won the bid to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” President Xi said in the letter. “Let me extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, our appreciation to the IOC for its trust and strong support over the years.”
“To present a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Winter Olympics is the aspiration of over 1.3 billion Chinese people. We will fulfill all our commitments and witness, together with the people of all other countries and the IOC, the advent of a new phase in the development of the Olympic winter sports and in the spread of the Olympic spirit.”
“The Chinese government and people will implement in good faith the Olympic Agenda 2020, create a new record for the same city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, and make new contribution to the advancement of the Olympic spirit.”
Compiled from Xinhua and Reuters wire reports.
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