Beijing to Host 2022 Winter Olympics; China Pledges to Use Games to Tackle Air Pollution


As expected, International Olympic Committee members chose Beijing over Almaty, Kazakhstan to host the 2022 Winter Olympics at Friday’s IOC meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Environmental issues played a key role in the run-up to, and aftermath of the vote.

In a tighter-than-predicted 44-40 vote, Beijing defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan to become host city of the 2022 Winter Olympics. GreenSportsBlog, in a post on Thursday, favored Almaty’s bid from an environmental point of view, citing Beijing’s need to use only man made (and highly carbon-emissions intense) snow for all snow-related events.
The environment did seem to play a role in the vote–but perhaps tilting some in favor of the Beijing bid. According to Tom Phillips, writing from Beijing for The Guardian, “A key component of Beijing’s winning bid was its pledge to tackle the toxic air pollution that often enshrouds the city.” Xinhua, the official news agency of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, provided some detail on July 28: “In an effort to tackle air pollution [for the 2022 Winter Games], Beijing upgraded its coal-fired heating system in urban areas to natural gas heating system and closed down heavy-polluted plants. Neighboring city Tianjin and provinces including Hebei adopted similar measures to give Beijing a hand.”
Beijing Delegation

Beijing delegation celebrates in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as it wins the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Also from Phillips Guardian piece, Beijing mayor, Wang Anshun, talked a strong green (Winter Olympics) game, saying that “huge steps had been taken since his city hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, with one million high-emissions vehicles forced from its roads.”

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  1. This week Boston dropped its bid for the Summer 2024 Olympics due to the expense (energy and otherwise) of such an effort. Seems like the expectations of the Olympic Committee – in terms of churning out increasingly ostentatious and energy consuming Olympics – rather than one that could be walkable using existing facilities – as originally proposed by Boston – dooms future events – no matter how much the false publicity is that they be carbon efficient – to be expensive energy hogs! Even though supposedly the Beijing 2008 Olympics was to be zero emissions, and the emissions were suppose to be offset by energy savings elsewhere – anyone who has been to Beijing can see (or not see due to the smog) that claims of Zero emissions are hard to fathom. We know that the Sochi games promised to be one of the cleanest Olympics on record – and we know that this claim was not upheld. I blame the Olympic Committee for setting up impossible hurdles. The funny accounting of the host cities is a symptom and not the blame, which lies at the feet of an Olympic Committee that seems to envision grandeur above all else including the environment – with such high expectations that claims of zero emissions – turns out to be an impossible dream and a costly quagmire to those few host cities still willing to falsely advertise that they can put out an ostentatious but clean Olympic Games.

  2. Thanks for the astute comment, John. I largely agree.
    For there to be Truth in (Olympic) Advertising regarding environmental issues, it would be best for bid cities to say they’re striving to be “Cleaner/Greener” than the prior Games, based on some agreed upon apples-to-apples metrics. Not Zero emissions–an impossible standard to reach. Zero-Waste (diverting 90% or more of waste from landfill), on the other hand, is within reach, and is one Olympics and World Cups and other mega events should strive for.
    On the doomed Boston bid, I do think that could’ve been one of the “greener” bids in recent Olympic cycles (London 2012 is the gold standard of games that actually took place IMHO). Smart use, it seemed, of mass transit, existing facilities, the universities, recycling the temporary Olympic Stadium. Same with New York’s failed 2012 bid–a bid with which I was more familiar than with Beantown–and Chicago 2016. NYC 2012’s reliance on mass transit, including liberal and smart use of the waterways, an Olympic Stadium that would’ve added a waterfront public park as a legacy, etc. NYC’s bid was poorly sold by Mayor Bloomberg and his consigliere, Dan Doctoroff. Because there were significant environmental, athletic facility legacy and economic benefits. Sounds like sales was a bugaboo in Boston, too?

  3. […] Beijing to Host 2022 Winter Olympics; China Pledges to Use Games to Tackle Air Pollution […]

  4. With a city Busget of a bit in excess of $2billion, most were skeptical that the city could handle a $10billion price tag effectively

  5. Which city are you talking about, Boston? My guess is they could’ve handled it fine as Olympics generate the bulk of the price tag from corporate sponsorship and sharing of broadcast rights, not from the taxpayer. Did they not communicate this to the public? This is how the Games have been financed since LA ’84. Summer Games in countries like USA, Canada and UK can do fine financially. Montreal ’76, which was the last Olympics in a developed democracy to be funded mainly by the taxpayer. That was a disaster from which Montreal is still digging out. But Montreal ’76 is no longer the model. LA ’84, Atlanta ’96, London ’12 are the models and those have not been financial disasters. So why would Boston fail where these 3 succeeded (in many respects)? Winter Olympics are a whole different kettle o’ fish. I’d stay away unless I represented a city that had hosted it already.

  6. We are honoured and humbled by the International Olympic Committee’s decision to award Beijing the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” Beijing’s bid committee said in a statement.

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