Almost 95 percent of the residents of Beijing and nearby Zhangjiakou support the two cities' joint bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, in stark contrast to the four European nations that dropped out of contention in the face of public opposition.

Support for the Games was 91.6 percent among Beijingers, and a whopping 99.5 percent in Zhangjiakou, averaging 94.8 percent, according to the Beijing Winter Olympics News and Propaganda Department announced on Wednesday.

"1.3 billion Chinese people express their strong support and love for the Olympics, and are longing to host the Games," said Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun.

Beijing Olympic officials stressed the city's readiness to hold the Games, referring to existing facilities such as the MasterCard Center, which, while best known as a basketball arena and concert venue, can be converted into an skating rink in just four hours. The International Olympic Committee has indicated it wants to see a bit more frugality from prospective hosts, after the USD 51 billion price tag of 2014's Sochi Olympics has been seen as scaring off potential host cities.

This wide support comes even prior to Jackie Chan's recording of the official bid song, "Awakening Winter", which the martial arts star is now in Beijing to do.

The IOC Evaluation Commission arrives later in March to conduct their official assessment of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou bid for the 2022 Games. Beijing rival Almaty received a boost in its bid host from the commission's visit in February. The timing for the Beijing visit isn't great – whereas Kazakhstan's Almaty was blanketed in snow (and snow is visible from the city center on nearby peaks even in June), there likely won't be a snowflake in sight, with daytime temperatures already reaching into the teens. Hopefully Jackie's smooth sounds will soothe the commission's concerns over snow.

Photo: Wikimedia

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