Beijing and Almaty make last pitches to stage 2022 winter Games
By Julian Linden
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The bidding teams from Beijing and Almaty made their final pitches to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday, pushing their cases to be chosen as the host for the 2022 winter Olympics.
Beijing, bidding to become the first city to host both the summer and winter Games, presented itself as the safe choice, emphasizing that they have already proven themselves as an Olympic host and have the experience and financial muscle to do it again.
The bid team from Kazakhstan urged the IOC to resist the temptation to go back to China and instead send a positive message to smaller developing countries that they too could host the world's greatest sporting events.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was not present at the Malaysian convention center where the presentations took place, but sent a video message that was broadcast to the 85 IOC members who will vote in a secret ballot to decide the winner, expected to be announced around 10 GMT.
"Let me assure you, if you choose Beijing the Chinese people will stage excellent and extraordinary Games," he said.
Beijing is the clear favorite to win the vote as the IOC grapples with the effects of a global economic crisis and the shifting power-base of world sport.
The four European candidates who originally entered the 2022 election all dropped out of the race, citing concerns about the escalating costs of staging the Olympics and dwindling support at home, prompting the IOC to introduce a raft of reforms to cut costs and attract more bidders in the future.
With only Beijing and Almaty in the running, the IOC is left with a tricky choice. Continued...