Get ready for Beijing Olympics 2022 ... as we prognosticated in February, we think Beijing's already a lock for hosting the 2022 Winter Games, and the dream came one step closer to reality this week as one of the five remaining bidders – Krakow, Poland – has dropped out after 70 percent of its citizens voted "no" on a referendum on holding the games (hat tip to Beijingcream for alerting us to the news).

That leaves the 2022 Winter Games with only four bidders: Oslo (whose citizens also don't want the games); Lviv, Ukraine, which is on the brink of war; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and lil' ol' Beijing.

Punters say with Oslo lacking citizen support – as well as having one of its two main political parties actually opposing the bid – and politically unstable Ukraine, the bid really boils down to two cities: oil-rich nowheresville Almaty and lovely, experienced, wealthy, modern Beijing. The final decision is to be made in Kuala Lumpur on July 31, 2015.

Now, c'mon. We don't want to cast aspersions on our Central Asian neighbor, but Kazakhstan? For winter sports? Sure, it's cold, but so are a lot of places. The IOC likes "sure things", hence its tendency to favor cities that have already hosted Olympic events.  They knows that Beijing has the will and the resources to go all out for the Games, and that's what the Olympics is supposed to be about, isn't it? Aside from corporate sponsorship and money, of course.

And yeah, do corporate sponsors want to reach Chinese consumers? Yep. Do they want to reach the good people of Kazakhstan, who at 16.8 million don't even exceed the population of Beijing? Not so much.

Beijing's got the citizen support bit locked, with 91 percent of the city supporting the bid, vs. an anemic 40 percent for Oslo, 65 percent for Almaty and 68 percent for Lviv.

Beijing's bid relies on using ski villages in Zhangjiakou and new venues in Yanqing, as well as retrofitted venues leftover from the 2008 Summer Games. Beijing's theme is to make the games "economical" in an era where hosting the games is rapidly losing its appeal due to the high cost of playing host. The Russians shelled out USD 51 billion for Sochi ... that's a lot of money for some leftover ski jumps after 16 days.

Working against Beijing's favor is of course the air pollution issue; the lack of natural snow; and the fact that it's recently hosted the games – but we think these can be overcome, as we explained in our previous post here.

Here's why we as Beijingers need to get behind this. First of all, if you were here in 2008, you remember it was great. Don't be a revisionist and think it's cool to say it sucked. It didn't, it was awesome.

Perhaps more importantly, we also know as Beijingers that nothing gets done around here unless there's a big event at the other end. From 1997 until 2009, a string of major events, starting with the Hong Kong handover and ending with the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, propelled all kinds of infrastructure improvements and a building boom the likes of which only Berlin, Dubai, and Shanghai have seen in the last 25 years.

Another Olympics will mean that Zhangjiakou will get a light rail line from the capital, but Beijing gets to do what it does best: get all dressed up for the big party. This time around, that can only mean one thing: dealing with pollution. Daily AQI readings are probably the only thing standing in the way of an outright Beijing win. Except for events requiring snow, which will be held in Zhangjiakou anyway, all the events hosted in Beijing will be indoors.

Still, since Beijing's expatriate community (and to some extent, its foreign press corps) have nothing to talk about but pollution, it's not likely the city will put it itself in the spotlight again without dealing with the one issue that everybody wants addressed. We needed and wanted a subway system, and now we've got it, thanks in big part to the Olympics. We need and want better air quality, and with a little help from our friends at the IOC, that part of the China Dream may be realized. We could certainly use it, with foreign visitor numbers continuing to decline.

With the 2018 Olympics set for South Korea, and the 2020 Summer Games set for Tokyo, it looks like it'll be three in a row for Asia. Even if Kazakhstan somehow gets it, it'll still be Asia, so the IOC's preference for geographic diversity appears it is going out the window. We don't care. Once again, Beijing is ready to huanying ni

So mark your calendars, wax those snowboards, and invest in them Zhangjiakou villas now folks, as in a little over a year the Beijing Olympic hype will return for real when our fair city is handed the '22 games.

Images: www.gamesbids.com, ChinaCulture.org

 


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