China makes bid to host Winter Olympic Games in 2022
Beijing plans to stage Games along with city of Zhangjiakou
Plans to build railway to link two venues unveiled
Faces challenge from several other cities including Munich, Oslo and Krakow
Beijing hosted one of the most memorable Summer Olympics in recent history – now the Chinese capital is hoping to welcome the world’s top Winter Games stars for the first time in a joint 2022 bid.
The 2008 host, along with the northern city of Zhangjiakou, is vying with several European cities after having officially entered the bidding, according to the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC).
Beijing would stage the ice events, reports the country’s state-run news agency Xinhua, while snow-based competitions would take place in Zhangjiakou.
“The 2008 Olympics has left many legacies to Beijing, which includes experience and sufficient infrastructure,” Beijing Sports Bureau chief Li Yingchuan told Xinhua.
“Take the Capital Stadium as an example, it has about 10,000 seats.”
Beijing hosted an International Skating Union competition earlier this month but would still require a new speed skating arena.
There are plans to build an express railway line to cover the 174 km distance from Beijing to Zhangjiakou, which is in Hebei Province.
It is estimated the journey time will be just 40 minutes, but Li is wary of the cost to the local environment.
“The government has already started to tackle the problem,” said Li. “I believe in 10 years the situation will be much better.”
China faces a fight to win the hosting rights, with Germany’s Munich, the Norwegian capital Oslo, Almaty in Kazahkstan, Poland’s Krakow, Ukraine’s Lviv and Sweden’s Oestersund all in the mix.
There is also the fact that Pyeongchang of South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Games – making it unlikely that another Asian country would succeed in 2022.
“There is a rotation rule, though unwritten, in the bid. Since Pyeongchang won the 2018 bid, Beijing as another Asian city will face a daunting task to beat the odds,” Li said.
“I would say anything is possible. Even if Beijing loses this time, we will continue our efforts in the future.”
A decision on which country will host the 2022 Games will be made in July 2015 by the International Olympic Committee.
Japan is the only Asian country to have hosted the Winter Olympics, in Sapporo (1972) and Nagano (1998).