Experts advise caution over Winter Olympics bid

Updated: 2013-11-06 00:05

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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Hosting the Olympic Games again would be great, but proceed with caution, sports experts warned as Beijing announced its ambition to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Five years after the spectacular 2008 Summer Olympics, the Chinese Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that Beijing and the nearby city of Zhangjiakou in Hebei province will launch a joint bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

If the bid is successful, Beijing will become the first city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Games.

However, pundits suggest the government should tread carefully.

"It will be a huge challenge, as Beijing is not an internationally recognized winter sports destination," said Zhang Qing, CEO of sports marketing and consulting company Key-Sports.

"Without the natural conditions and winter game infrastructure that cities in northeastern China have, Beijing won’t be a competent candidate, even with the great Olympic legacy of the 2008 Games."

Zhangjiakou is about 203 kilometers northwest of Beijing. It boasts long winters with six months of snow and has emerged as a winter tourism spot in northern China. An intercity railway line has been planned to connect the city with Beijing, reducing travel time between the two locations to around 40 minutes.

Nov 14 is the deadline for submission of bids to the IOC.

China has bid previously for the Winter Olympics. The northeast city of Harbin failed to make the short list of finalists in the race for the 2010 Winter Games, which went to Vancouver.

Almaty, Kazakhstan, has already officially lodged a 2022 bid. Other potential contenders include Oslo, Norway; Munich; Lviv, Ukraine; and a joint bid from Poland and Slovakia. Barcelona has decided not to bid.

The IOC will select the 2022 host city in 2015.

The chances of Asia getting the games in 2022 would seem remote, as Pyeongchang, South Korea, will host the 2018 Winter Games and Tokyo will stage the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Some experts are already identifying potential hurdles down the road.

Lin Xianpeng, a sports industry professor at Beijing Sport University, said that the general public might be suspicious of the plan in light of increased scrutiny of government spending and the current official drive to cut back on extravagant celebrations on the part of officials.

"People overdosed on Olympic passion in 2008, and I doubt whether the public will feel as much enthusiasm as they did for the last Games in Beijing. The expectation that the Olympic influence will boost the sports industry and public fitness levels is also lower," said Lin.