Beijing shortlisted for Olympics bid

Beijing and cohost city Zhangjiakou in Hebei province have made it onto the shortlist of three candidate cities to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

Oslo in Norway and Almaty in Kazakhstan are the other possible hosts under consideration, the executive board of International Olympic Committee said on Monday.

"We are going to accelerate the grassroots promotion of winter sports and the improvement of urban infrastructure and public service, as well as air quality by preparing for the Games," Yang Shu'an, vice-chairman of the bidding committee, said on Monday.

Yang also stressed the importance of preparing in a frugal and sustainable style, which could be achieved by using venues built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and existing skiing facilities in Chongli county of Zhangjiakou, about 200 kilometers northwest of Beijing.

Only two new venues will be built: an indoor stadium with a 400-meter track for distance speed skating and a resort for alpine skiing in Yanqing county's Xiaohaituo Mountain area.

An intercity high-speed railway has been planned to connect Beijing and Zhangjiakou, which will reduce travel time to about 40 minutes.

Still, the lack of a winter sports tradition in Beijing, compared with Oslo and Almaty, has drawn concerns.

As a winter sports powerhouse, Norway boasts impressive Olympic results and public participation in winter sports while Kazakhstan also features winter sports traditions proven by hosting the Asian Winter Games in 2011.

Jiang Xiaoyu, vice-chairman of the Beijing Olympic City Development Association, said Beijing boasts advantages in its huge population and market potential.

"The bid will stimulate about 300 million people living in Beijing and surrounding areas to become interested in winter sports and invest in winter recreational events after the Games, which will produce a demand for the operation of facilities after the event," Jiang said.

The IOC's evaluation commission will visit applicant cities from February to March before selecting the host city of the 2022 Games in July next year.