IOC faces tricky choice for 2022 Winter Olympic host

Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:10pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The global economic crisis and the shifting power-base of world sport have left the International Olympic Committee (IOC) facing a difficult decision.

On Friday, in a convention center in downtown Kuala Lumpur, the IOC membership will cast their vote to decide the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

In normal times, the election of an Olympic host city is a hotly-contested event with the candidates hosting lavish receptions and turning on the charm offensive to win the right to stage one of the biggest festivals in world sport.

But not this time. There are only two candidates, both somewhat unlikely; Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, ensuring that Asia will host three Olympics in a row after Pyeongchang, South Korea was awarded the 2018 Winter Games and Tokyo the 2020 Summer Games.

For the IOC, it is a double-edged sword. The appeal of taking the biggest events to Asia, home to more than half of the world's population and boasting the fastest growing regional economy in the world, is obvious and irresistible.

But it is the lack of interest from other parts of the world that worries the IOC. Four different candidates from Europe originally entered the bidding race, but all dropped out, mostly because of the escalating costs.

Last week, Tokyo were forced to scrap their plans for their new national stadium, which will be the centerpiece of the 2020 Summer Games, for a cheaper version.

This week, Boston pulled out of the running for the 2024 Summer Games, two years even before the vote takes place.   Continued...

President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach speaks next to IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams at a news conference following the IOC executive board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 29, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris