March 27, 2015 / 5:08 PM / 2 years ago

Beijing pledges free internet, optimum use of 2008 venues

Members of the The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Evaluation Commission and representatives of Beijing's 2022 Winter Olympics bid committee tour a ski field in Chongli town, near the Zhangjiakou, in China's Hebei Province on March 26, 2015. REUTERS/WANG ZHAO/Pool

BERLIN (Reuters) - Beijing’s Olympic experience and infrastructure are key in delivering a successful 2022 winter Games, senior bid official Wu Jingmi said on Friday, pledging also free internet during the event.

The bid’s Deputy Secretary General told Reuters that the use of the venues from the 2008 summer Games fit with the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 reforms of keeping costs low and using more existing or temporary venues.

He was speaking at an IOC evaluation commission and is in the Chinese capital until Saturday. Beijing, along with the nearby city of Zhangjiakou are jointly bidding for the Games to return to China.

Beijing and Kazakhstan’s Almaty are the only two cities left in the race after Stockholm, Lviv, Krakow and Oslo pulled out over a lack of support or financial concerns among other reasons.

The IOC will elect the winning bid in July at its session in Malaysia with Beijing pitching access to a growing winter sports market.

“We have learned a lot from Beijing 2008,” Wu, who was in charge of the Olympic village at those Games, said in a telephone interview. “We have gained a lot of experience to bid for 2022 Olympic winter Games.”

He said another Beijing bid so soon after their last Olympics was not necessary a drawback. No city has ever hosted both summer and winter Olympics.

“I don’t see any disadvantages. It has been seven or eight years since Beijing. But the passion still lives in the heart of the citizens. They already want the Olympic movement back to Beijing.”

He said Beijing’s bid was also cost effective given the existing venues.

“We use 2008 Olympic Games venues. In Beijing we have five competition venues for ice sports, and four are legacy venues, like the Water Cube and the national indoor stadium.”

“We have quite a lot of experienced people for budgeting and they have really made a cost effective budget.”

Bid officials have also pledged free access to the internet, something they had done but not delivered fully at the 2008 Olympics with some restrictions in place after a deal agreed with the IOC.

“Developing internet use has been a key government objective in recent years and we already have over 650 million people with internet access,” said Wu.

”Open access to the internet was provided to Games visitors at the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games and this is planned for 2022.

“Given our determination to provide the best Games experience for the Olympic family athletes and spectators we are continuing to work closely with the IOC to ensure optimum arrangements can be made.”

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann

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