China`s Harbin awaits approval for 2018 Winter bid

Beijing: Harbin is awaiting approval from China`s cabinet before launching a bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, an official at the city`s sports bureau told reporters.

The northern metropolis of nearly 10 million people, which failed to make the shortlist for the 2010 Games, wants to bring the Olympics back to China a decade after the successful Summer Games in Beijing.

"We are applying for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Harbin wants to host the Games," Li Chunlei, who is working on the bid project, said by telephone.

"But it is under the examination and approval of the State Council and there is still some time to go before the deadline."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched the bid process for the 2018 Games at the end of last month and China has until Oct. 15 to put forward the name of a bid city.

"If we submit our bidding to the IOC before the deadline it means we got approval," Li said. "If we don`t, we just don`t."

Permission may not be forthcoming, however.

Sports minister Liu Peng, told a website two weeks ago that it would be "difficult" given the strength of the other contenders. South Korea`s Pyeongchang is likely to launch its third bid to host Asia`s first Winter Olympics outside Japan, while Munich, Geneva and Norway`s Tromso are also expected to be in the race.

Harbin invested 3.1 billion yuan (USD 453.7 million) on building Olympic standard facilities for this year`s Winter University Games, including the venue for China`s first accredited Alpine skiing downhill race and a snowboarding and biathlon park.

Organisers said only bobsled and luge runs would now need to be built and there remains little doubt it will be the host city when China does hold the Winter Games, even if it is not in 2018.

"The Chinese people are keen to host a Winter Games," China`s deputy sports minister Cui Dalin told reporters recently.

"Harbin, with unique geographical conditions for ice and snow and people who love the winter sports, is enthusiastic about hosting a Winter Olympics."

"I believe they will continue bidding until they win, until China successfully hosts a Winter Olympics."

The 2010 Games take place in Vancouver, Canada, while the Black Sea resort of Sochi will host Russia`s first Winter Olympics in 2014.

Bureau Report