Beijing sets new world record as olympic host

Beijing sets new world record as olympic host
Thomas Bach President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announces Beijing as the city to host the the 2022 Winter Olympics during the 128th International Olympic Committee Session, in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, July 31, 2015.

The scenes of celebration at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center on Friday brought back memories of 2001 when Beijing won its first Olympic bid for the 2008 Summer Games.

Hugs and high-fives, mixed with loud cheers from enraptured Beijing 2022 bid officials, who jumped from their chairs with fists pumping high, filled the announcement hall after the International Olympic Committee selected Beijing as host of the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Beijing, with co-host Zhangjiakou in neighbouring Hebei province, edged out Almaty, Kazakhstan, by 44-40 in the IOC vote. Boasting a rich legacy from the facilities of the 2008 Olympics, and expertise hosting major international events, Beijing will be the only city to stage both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

"We are thrilled to become the first city over the more than 100 years of history of the Olympic Movement to present two Olympics," Wang Anshun, head of the Beijing bid committee and mayor of Beijing, said at a news conference with IOC President Thomas Bachon Friday.

"From a candidate to the host, we will work hard to fulfil all the promises we made in adherence to the Olympic Agenda 2020 by staying an athlete-centred, sustainable and economical Winter Olympics in 2022 with a lasting legacy.

"I also want to show my sincere respect to our neighbour and friend Almaty for its persistent pursuit of Olympic dreams," Wang said.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong, who led Beijing's final presentation to IOC members early on Friday, said political stability, economic strength and a harmonious society will guarantee smooth delivery of the 2022 Olympics.

The Chinese government will offer full support in finance, legal affairs and security, as well as organizational expertise, to assure that Beijing could present another impressive Olympics, Liu added.

Beijing will host the Games in three venue clusters - downtown Beijing for ice sports, and northwest Yanqing county and Zhangjiakou for skiing events-which will be linked by a high-speed railway that will cut travel time from Beijing to Zhangjiakou to 50 minutes when it's completed in 2019.

Despite the relatively underdeveloped status of winter sports in the country, Beijing's vision to promote the untapped winter sports market by hosting the 2022 Games has appealed to the world, said Bach.

"Today, in Beijing's presentation, what was very important was to show (that) with the Olympic Winter Games, 300 million people can have access to winter sports in the centre of North China."

Currently a world power in figure skating and short-track speed skating, China has vowed to make up for its weakness on snow by injecting US$30 million (S$41.2 m) in government funding to cultivate less-popular events such as alpine skiing and luge leading up to 2022, according to the State Administration of Winter Sports.

Kevan Gosper, former IOC vice-president and an honorary IOC member, said Beijing's strong ability in delivering on its promises convinced the world.

"I am very happy for Beijing," the Australian told China Daily after the vote. "We saw 2008 for the Summer Games, every issue they delivered, and we know that will happen again in 2022. I think it was well deserved."


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