Kazakhstan vs. China - A showdown between 2022 Winter Olympic Games candidates

Kazakhstan vs. China - A showdown between 2022 Winter Olympic Games candidates

winter_olympics.jpg

Who will it be? We'll find out soon enough.
Photo: Xinhua and AFP

[Update - 5:59pm, July 31]

The results are out! The host of the 2022 Winter Olympics is Beijing!


[Update - 4.49pm, July 31]

The IOC has decided to vote by paper ballots after problems with the electronic voting in the choice for the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

After both bid teams made final presentations earlier Friday, IOC members were voting with new tablets by secret ballot.

But after the vote was declared closed, IOC director general Christophe De Kepper told the delegates that there had been “interferences with changes of tablets” and that scrutineers “are not comfortable with the integrity of the vote.”
 
De Kepper said the vote would be re-run using paper ballots, which is a much lengthier procedure.


[Update - 1.29pm, July 31]

Human rights activists are stepping up efforts to derail Beijing's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Five groups opposing Beijing's bid have appealed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), urging it not to award the Games to the Chinese capital.

"China is now facing a human rights crisis with a scale of violations that is unprecedented since 2008," United States-based rights activists Rose Tang and Gu Yi said in a letter last week to the IOC.

They said human rights had deteriorated in China since Beijing held the 2008 Games. The last two years under President Xi Jinping have been marked by a sweeping crackdown on dissidents, activists and human rights lawyers.

The Beijing 2022 Bid Committee said sport should be kept separate from politics. "We believe in the Olympic Charter's vision to protect the power of sport from political influence," it said.

The IOC said both Almaty and Beijing had given assurances on "non-discrimination ... internet access, media freedom, labour rights and the right to demonstrate during the games".


It's not long until it is announced which city will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games: Almaty in Kazakhstan or Beijing in China. While the International Olympic Committee says both cities are strong candidates, critics say it's an unpleasant choice between two countries that are controversially undemocratic and with dubious human rights records.

Beijing and Almaty staged their final pleas to the IOC today to win the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Denis Ten of Kazakhstan delivers a speech during Almaty's 2022 Olympic Winter Games bid presentation.
Photo: Reuters
 

Underdog Almaty made lightly disguised attacks on China’s bid and reliance on fake snow in its final presentation to the IOC before Beijing presents its case to the 86 IOC members who will cast secret ballots on the Games later today.

Kazakhstan has surged back into contention in recent months with the campaign slogan of “Keeping it Real”.

“We are a golden opportunity to prove that smaller advancing nations can successfully host the Olympic Games,” Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim Massimov told the IOC.

The former Kazakh capital would stage “a games that are centred on the needs of athletes and sport not on the needs of (the) host country’s global image”, said Andrey Kryukov, vice chairman of the Almaty bid committee.

“In Almaty, there will be no bus, train or car rides for hours to reach or return from faraway mountain venues.”

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach(L) shakes hands with Beijing 2022 ambassador Yao Ming.
Photo: Xinhua

Some of China’s proposed venues are up to 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Beijing, but it will use iconic facilities such as the Bird’s Nest national stadium built for the 2008 Summer Olympics, and most of the snow sports would be held against a backdrop of the Great Wall of China.

All of Almaty’s venues are within 30 kilometres (18 miles) of the city, which the delegation portrayed as a “winter wonderland”.

China, because of its political and economic clout and its experience hosting the 2008 Games, is the strong favourite because many IOC members consider it a “safe bet”.

Olympic fever mounted in Beijing on decision day.

“The delegation will present to the whole world Beijing’s capacity and confidence to host the 2022 Winter Olympics,” said the Beijing News daily.

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