By Noy Shani @NoyShani
Beijing has been awarded the privilege of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, after edging over the only other bidder, the city of Almaty from Kazakhstan. European cities withdrew for political or financial reasons, the Chinese bid beat Almaty by 44 votes to 40 with one abstention.
However, questions were quickly raised about the city’s suitability for such a mammoth task.
You see, even though the city hosted the 2008 summer Olympics, the chosen destination, which is in fact the city of Zhangjiakou, 150 miles to the north of the capital, does not have snow.
This matter has been heavily discussed throughout the last week on social media, giving place to some funny anecdotes such as this from BBC Weather:
— BBC Weather (@bbcweather) July 31, 2015
So, with only average precipitation – 3-4mm in the month of February – how are they going to make it happen and become the first ever city who host both the summer and winter games? The Chinese government is planning to spend around $90 million on installation and implementation of various water diversions schemes, in a bid to meet the requirements and in addition, large quantities of man-made snow will be required. All that for a country that is not typically known for its winter sport enthusiasts.
There is also the issue of the country’s dubious reputation when it comes to human rights, which does raise an eyebrow or two, definitely from many activists such as Free Tibet and the CPJ who are committed to protect and allow press freedom.
Beijing’s 2008 Summer Olympics were marred by forced evictions and Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently criticized China for having abusive, unaccountable domestic security forces.
Activists have also highlighted what they say is the country’s deteriorating human rights, with more than 260 Chinese citizens detained or questioned in a recent crackdown on communist party opponents, activists, journalists and academics.
— CPJ (@pressfreedom) July 31, 2015
International Olympic President Thomas Bach confirmed Beijing had been chosen at the 128th IOC session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “I am so excited. This is China’s pride,” said Zhang Hong, China’s women’s 1,000m speed skating gold medal winner at the Sochi Games.