Beijing 2022

In case you are one of the millions of people world-wide who are scratching their heads at how Beijing, a city with virtually no snow and no history of winter sports was chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, this article in the Christian Science Monitor may help (somewhat):

On Friday, the IOC chose Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, making Beijing the first city to host the Winter and Summer Games.

But those in attendance in Kuala Lumpur seemed to know what is now widely apparent: the Olympic movement had already lost.

The IOC cannot sprinkle gold dust onto Friday’s decision: It was a failure of the Olympic bidding process.

In other words, the selection of Beijing was the product of a broken system, one in which fewer and fewer cites seem to be willing to bear the cost of hosting the Games.

Even Bob Costas will not be able to gloss over the fact that Beijing is an excessively odd choice to host a Winter Olympics, as it lacks snow, mountains, or any discernible winter sports tradition. It won because the IOC had no other viable choice.

Yes, Almaty, Kazakhstan – the only city competing with Beijing – has mountains and snow in abundance, but not hotel rooms, or easy air connections to the rest of the world, or a name anyone who is not a subscriber to Foreign Policy magazine has ever heard of.

To choose Almaty would have been to accept an intolerable and potentially impractical contraction of the Olympics’ scope and grandeur.

To choose Beijing would simply be an intolerable inconvenience of time and space, and that is nothing the Chinese government can’t handle.

Like the whole “no snow” thing.

Translation (and apologies to my friends and readers in Almaty): the IOC seemingly had no choice.

When Oslo, Norway, and Krakow, Poland, and Stockholm all pull out of the bidding for reasons similar to Boston’s; when voters in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Munich reject proposed Olympic bids for reasons similar to Boston’s; and when no one in North America bothers to apply, you end up with – Beijing.

And lest you think this whole “no snow” thing is overblown, here’s a photo of the proposed alpine skiing area, taken in late January:

screen shot 2015-06-02 at 10.28.21 am

I’m sorry folks (and I say this as a lover of Beijing), but that’s insane!!

Related Posts:

A Beijing Winter Olympics? 

Ski the Bird’s Nest


Ski the Bird’s Nest

A few months ago I wrote about Beijing being one of the finalist cities in the bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2022. Today, during an afternoon walk around the Olympic Park to clear some of the jet-lag induced fog out of my brain, I came upon this make-shift ski hill that has been set up outside the famous Bird’s Nest Stadium. Could this be, I wondered, a future Olympic venue?

Bird's Nest ski hill

Mostly I think it’s proof once again that we have not, in fact, seen everything!

A Beijing Winter Olympics?

You may not know this, but Beijing is bidding to host the Winter Olympics in 2022. I must admit the first time I heard this, I had to stifle a laugh. Shouldn’t a Winter Olympics host city have, well, snow?  Yes, it does (on occasion) snow in Beijing, but if any of it stays on the ground for 24 hours or longer, it turns black from the coal dust in the air. And yes, there are mountains that surround Beijing, but they don’t get much snow either. Beijing ski “resorts” consist of one or two snow-covered runs (man-made snow) on an otherwise completely brown and barren hillside.

Oslo dropped out of the bidding last month, leaving the IOC with the task of deciding between Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan. Yes, you read that right. Here’s how Dan Balz, writing for Yahoo Sports puts it:

The effect is the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, which is now down to just two cities. The final vote comes next summer.

There’s Beijing, China, which doesn’t actually sit within 120 miles of a usable ski mountain, and there’s Almaty, Kazakhstan, which in its bid touted itself as “the world’s largest landlocked nation.”

It’s down to these two cities not because the IOC narrowed the field, but because every other city in the entire world said no.

Seriously, every other city said no.

Here, my friends, is the promotional video the Beijing Committee released last week (go here if you can’t see it in an email):

There are no words!

In case you’re wondering what it was like in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games, you can check out my archived blog posts:

Stranded in Beijing

The Flame-Mobile

Surprisingly Normal

Autumn in Beijing

Tennis, Anyone?

No People? No Food?

The Return of the Marxist Mamas

Weather Report

Watching CCTV

A Day at the Beach

No Joy in Mudville

A Traumatic Memory

Little Wheel Bike Race

Plotting Supper

Please, No More Songs

Early Morning Lightning

Break-dancing Fuwa

Out with a Bang