IOC in no mood for risks, opts for Beijing's sure bet

Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:09am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The choice of Beijing as host of the 2022 Winter Olympics over Kazakhstan's Almaty was a solid vote for the tried and tested, and the financial and organizational security of China.

It will not be the picture postcard Winter Olympics with mountains blanketed in deep white snow, but a fragmented Games split between the sprawling capital city and two mountain venues almost an hour away.

By contrast, Kazakhstan had promised a winter wonderland at the foot of the Tian Shan mountains, but clearly, the IOC was in no mood for any more risks.

"I think the IOC chose certainty in this vote," IOC Vice President Craig Reedie told Reuters. "We know how the Chinese work. There is a familiarity."

"Kazakhstan is bigger than (Western) Europe and has 17 million people. I think there was a degree of uncertainty."

China's pragmatic approach of using its experience from hosting the 2008 summer Games and many of the existing venues from those Olympics, paid off as the IOC grapples with problems faced by other Games organizations.

Four of the six initial 2022 Games bidders dropped out mid-race over financial concerns or a lack of support, some scared off by the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics' $51 billion price tag.

The IOC had initially attempted to play down the problem saying two good bids were left, before pushing through a string of reforms in December aimed at making future bidding more attractive and the Games themselves cheaper and a more lucrative prospect for host cities.   Continued...

China's speed skater Yang Yang (C) looks towards basketball player Yao Ming, with free skier Li Nina (L), during Beijing's 2022 Winter Games presentation at the 128th International Olympic Committee Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 31, 2015. REUTERS/OLIVIA HARRIS