Beijingers happy if not ecstatic after Olympic bid success
In contrast to the dancing on the streets that greeted the city’s last Olympic bid success, Beijingers and even official state media seemed oddly subdued on Friday after the Chinese capital was named 2022 Winter Games host.
Beijing beat Kazakhstan’s Almaty by just four votes after the International Olympic Committee ballot.
President Xi Jinping sent a letter to Committee President Thomas Bach thanking the IOC for its trust and support in selecting Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency reported half an hour after the announcement.
In the letter, Xi said that more than 1.3 billion Chinese people hoped to `present a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Winter Olympics.’
Beijing previously hosted the 2008 Summer Games and becomes the first city to hold both Summer and Winter Olympics.
Pro-Tibet groups and Greenpeace reacted swifter than state media with their responses to Beijing’s promise of a “joyful rendezvous upon pure ice and snow.’’
“Whatever the IOC wants or says, the message heard loud and clear in Beijing is that human rights and Tibet don’t matter,’’ said a statement from the International Tibet Network.
“The honour of a second Olympic Games is a propaganda gift to China when what it needs is a slap in the face.’’
Beijing and the skiing venue of Zhangjiakou have set themselves ambitious air quality targets, said Ma Tianjie, Greenpeace programme director for mainland China.
“Greenpeace urges the two cities to look beyond the two weeks of the Games and adopt systematic pollution reduction measures that will have long term benefits,’’ his statement read.
The Chinese general public also hope it leads to better air quality.
“This is really good for our city. The government will now endeavour to get the air pollution more quickly under control,’’ Lin Yangxiaojian, 30, told dpa after news broke on his mobile phone.
Wang Song, 28, was waiting with friends at a bar in the Sanlitun area of Beijing when he heard the decision.
“I am very happy, but it’s not as exciting as in 2001 when we got the Summer Games,’’ he said. “I have the impression that Beijingers aren’t so much into winter sports.’’
Perhaps part of the reason for a lack of enthusiasm has been a lack of competition. When Beijing won its first Olympic bid in 2001, the other shortlisted cities were Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka.
This time the Chinese capital only had to beat Almaty after a raft of cities pulled out over cost concerns.
“You’re joking, right? It’s hardly a surprise. Who didn’t expect Beijing?,’’ said Chen Ping, a web designer who works in the city.
“Maybe they should have skipped the bidding process and saved a lot of money because everybody knew who the IOC was choosing,’’ he said.
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