Sports

2022 Olympics: Beijing picked to host Winter Games

The International Olympic Committee has selected Beijing's bid to host the 2022 Winter Games, picking the 2008 Summer Games host city over sole rival Almaty, Kazakhstan.

China's capital city becomes 1st to host both winter, summer Games

China's Vice Premier Liu Yandong, second left, is greeted by Wang Anshun, left, Beijing mayor and president of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games bid, as other members of the delegation from Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics candidate city react after Beijing was elected to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games at an IOC meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Vincent Thian/Associated Press)

Beijing was selected Friday to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, defeating the bid from Almaty in a surprisingly close vote to become the first city awarded both the winter and summer games.

Beijing won the secret vote of the International Olympic Committee by 44-40, with one abstention. The vote was conducted by paper ballot, after the first electronic vote experienced technical faults with the voting tablets.

The Chinese capital, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, came in to the vote against the city from Kazakhstan as the strong favourite, despite its lack of natural snow.

Beijing was seen by IOC members as a safe, reliable choice that also offered vast commercial opportunities in a new winter sports market of more than 300 million people in northern China.

"They chose certainty in Beijing," IOC vice-president Craig Reedie of Britain said. "But I don't think anybody would have believed that the result would have been that close."

Almaty had hoped to bring the games to Central Asia for the first time, but was a lesser-known quantity and viewed as a riskier choice by IOC members. Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov made a last-minute impassioned plea for the IOC to be "brave" and give the games to his country, but it wasn't quite enough.

"Gee, you wouldn't have picked that close result a few months ago," IOC vice-president John Coates of Australia said. "That address by the prime minister today was brilliantly crafted. I think that's why it got close. But the size of China, the number of people that are going to be introduced to winter sport now, those were all factors."

Study in contrasts

The contest was a study in contrasts between the world's most populous nation and a former Soviet republic seeking to establish itself on the world stage. China's political and economic might was a big advantage against its northwestern neighbour, which became independent in 1991.

"Just as with the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, the Olympic Family has put its faith in Beijing again," the bid committee said. "This will be a memorable event at the foot of the Great Wall ... that will further enhance the tremendous potential to grow winter sports in our country, in Asia and around the world."

Almaty bid vice chairman Andrey Kryukov said the city would consider bidding again.

"One thing I can say is Almaty was ready to host the 2022 Winter Games," he said.

Beijing and Almaty had both been considered longshots when the 2022 bid race opened two years ago. But they were the only two candidates left after four European cities — including Oslo and Stockholm — pulled out for political or financial reasons.

Almaty was bidding for a second time, but this was the first time it made it to the vote after being cut in the preliminary stage for the 2014 Games.

"Almaty is not a risky choice for 2022," Massimov told the IOC delegates. "In fact, we are quite the opposite. ... We are a golden opportunity to prove that smaller, advancing nations can successfully host the Winter Games."

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