Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city to hold a Summer Games and a Winter Games, after beating Almaty, Kazakhstan, in an International Olympic Committee members vote Friday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Beijing received 44 votes to Almaty’s 40.
“Just as with the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, the Olympic family has put its faith in Beijing again to deliver the athlete-centred, sustainable and economical Games we have promised,” the Beijing bid committee said in a statement. “This will be a memorable event at the foot of the Great Wall for the whole Olympic family, the athletes and the spectators that will further enhance the tremendous potential to grow winter sports in our country, in Asia and around the world.”
Beijing, site of the 2008 Olympics, plans to spread 2022 Olympic events across three clusters over 100 miles and use the Bird’s Nest stadium for Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as it did seven years ago. One of the lowest-latitude Winter Olympic hosts will supplement natural snow with man-made snow.
The Water Cube, where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in 2008, will become the Ice Cube, used for curling.
It will mark the third straight Olympics in East Asia, following the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Almaty hoped to bring the Olympics to Kazakhstan for the first time and to the smallest nation by population since Athens 2004 (and Lillehammer 1994 for the Winter Games).
Also Friday, the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics were awarded to Lausanne, Switzerland, over Brasov, Romania, in an IOC members vote.
Both 2022 Winter Olympic bids made presentations to IOC members earlier Friday, starting with Almaty. The Kazakh bid team, which included Sochi Olympic bronze medalist figure skater Denis Ten, emphasized its bid’s advantages over Beijing — lots and lots of natural snow and a compact venue plan.
“Real snow,” “a winter wonderland” and “frostbite” were uttered.
All proposed venues were within a 30km radius of the Olympic Village, a statistic repeated in the presentation.
“No bus, train or car rides for hours,” Almaty bid vice chairman Andrey Kryukov said. “No one endures many hours just to enjoy snow and ice events in a single day.”
Almaty pointed out that it would become the first Central Asian nation to host an Olympics.
“Historic moment as a finalist,” Ten said. “A tremendous victory just by being here.”
Kazakhstan prime minister Karim Massimov delivered Almaty’s final speech, asking IOC members to “have faith in us.”
“Perhaps because we are unknown to most of you, some might consider us a risky choice,” he said, adding that all bid cities have a level of risk before concluding with, “Almaty is not a risky choice. We are a golden opportunity. We are a golden opportunity to prove that smaller, advancing nations can successfully host the Winter Games.”
Beijing came next, armed with a delegation including 7-foot, 6-inch retired basketball star Yao Ming, who also played an ice hockey goalie in a recorded promotional video. Its message often reminded IOC members of the city’s successful 2008 Olympic Games.
“China is a longtime friend and partner of the Olympic movement,” said China Olympic Committee vice president Yu Zaiqing, also an IOC vice president. “You trusted us then [in 2008], and we delivered on every expectation. We hope you will trust us now.”
The Beijing team said hosting the Winter Games would encourage 300 million Chinese to participate in ice and snow sports, building a foundation for the future of the world’s most populous nation.
It also addressed concerns. Beijing mayor Wang Anshun said there’s a $130 billion plan to enhance air quality for a “clean energy future.”
The bid’s venue plan spreads across some 100 miles, but Wang said a not-yet-finished high-speed train would take riders from venue to venue in as little as 20 minutes (and as much as 50 minutes, a promo video said last year).
Beijing’s bid would require man-made snow, but speakers said more than half of the country has below-freezing temperatures, the whole country has more than 500 ski resorts and Beijing has 17 ice rinks.
“Beijing 2022 is a Games about the future of winter sport,” Yu said. “We hope it will have a future of millions of new fans, a future of new sponsors, partners, a future of new athletes, opportunities.”
The 2024 Olympic host will be voted on in 2017. Budapest, Hamburg, Paris, Rome and a U.S. city are stated bidders so far.