The International Olympic Committee has chosen Beijing as host of the 2022 winter Olympic Games, over Almaty, Kazakhstan, the only other contender in the bid for an increasingly expensive event. IOC president Thomas Bach announced the decision Friday, during the committee’s 128th session in Kuala Lumpur.
Beijing hosted the summer Olympics in 2008 and said it will reuse many of those venues for the winter Games; Kazakhstan has never hosted an Olympics. China was seen as the safer choice, offering repeat venues and good sponsorship opportunities.
But Kazakhstan had said it has better weather for winter sports and a better prospect of competition on natural snow. Almaty’s proponents had also noted that Almaty is a compact location, whereas some venues in China are as far as 160 kilometers away from Beijing.
Both nations have been criticized for their poor records on human rights. Observers are split on whether giving a nation the Games exposes its rights record to closer scrutiny or simply rewards its failures.
This year’s contest for the Games was unusual in that there were only two contenders. Four other cities, all from Europe: Munich, Germany; Stockholm, Sweden; Krakow, Poland, and Graubunden, Switzerland, dropped out of the running, citing the high cost of hosting the Games and low levels of public interest.
Escalating security concerns have also made the Games a less attractive event for potential host cities.
(IOC president Thomas Bach shows the results of the election of the Host City of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Photo: IOC/Ubald Rutar)