Beijing awarded 2022 Winter Olympics

Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:08pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Beijing was chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2022 Winter Olympics on Friday, becoming the first city to be awarded both the summer and winter Games.

The Chinese capital beat Kazakhstan's Almaty in a secret ballot of 85 IOC members held at a convention center in downtown Kuala Lumpur in a decision that drew immediate criticism from human rights activists.

The ballot was conducted twice, first electronically and then by paper after it was discovered the electronic system had malfunctioned.

The IOC said Beijing won a surprisingly close vote, 44-40, with one abstention.

"Just as with the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, the Olympic Family has put its faith in Beijing again to deliver the athlete-centerd, 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."

Despite concerns about a lack of natural snow in the city's distant mountains, and protests from human rights groups, Beijing had been the clear favorite to win the vote after it successfully hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The high-powered Chinese delegation assured IOC members that Beijing was the safe choice because it had already proved it could stage the Games and said it would take winter sports into the backyard of the world's most populated country.   Continued...

Fireworks explode behind a snowboarding sculpture to celebrate Beijing being chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, in Chongli county of Zhangjiakou, jointly bidding to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games with capital Beijing, July 31, 2015.  REUTERS/Jason Lee