BEIJING (Reuters) - Snow levels in mountains near Beijing will be sufficient for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games if China’s capital wins the right to host the sporting event, an official of the country’s bid committee said on Friday.
Some have voiced concerns that the mountains near Zhangjiakou, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of Beijing, would not receive enough snow for an Olympic competition, requiring costly snow-making efforts.
Wang Hui, spokeswoman for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee, said the region designated for outdoor snow sports, such as skiing, met the snow fall standards of the International Olympic Committee.
“If at the time snow must be made in Zhangjiakou and Yanqing for competition, the water resources in the surrounding areas are rich,” Wang told reporters during a briefing, adding that water would not be diverted from the typically arid capital.
“Snow making will have no relation to Beijing’s water,” Wang said. She did not give details of the cost of such efforts.
Estimated snow depth during the Games at outdoor venues near Zhangjiakou is between 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) and 49 centimeters (19.3 inches), according to Chinese meteorological bureau data on the bid committee’s website.
With Pyeonchang hosting the 2018 Winter Games and Tokyo the 2020 Summer Games, the odds of Asia getting a third successive Olympics had initially seemed remote.
But only Beijing and Kazakhstan’s Almaty have been left in the 2022 race and neither city is a winter sports powerhouse.
The Chinese capital, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, is rapidly emerging as the heavy favorite because of China’s strong economy and proven record.
The International Olympic Committee voted for an overhaul of the bid process in December after four of the six candidate cities for the 2022 winter Olympics dropped out in mid-race, concerned over costs or lack of public support.
If Beijing succeeds in its bid it will become the first city to host the Summer and Winter Olympics -- both within 14 years.
An IOC evaluation committee is set to visit Beijing and Zhangjiakou in late March, and a winner will be announced in July.
Reporting by Michael Martina