Low-key celebration in Beijing for 2022 Winter Games win
Beijing celebrated its selection as the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics in low-key fashion on Friday, in stark contrast to when the Chinese capital was awarded the 2008 Summer Games.
Beijing: Beijing celebrated its selection as the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics in low-key fashion on Friday, in stark contrast to when the Chinese capital was awarded the 2008 Summer Games.
In 2001, Beijing reverberated with noisy celebrations as excited crowds thronged into Tiananmen Square and the city streets in an outpouring of joy.
With four European bidders dropping out of the race, citing worries over costs and lack of support for the Games, Beijing emerged as the clear favourite, facing only the Kazakh city of Almaty.
But there were little obvious sign of celebration when Beijing was formally announced as the winner on Friday, apart from government organised events, although many people said they were pleased China had won the vote.
In the fashionable Sanlitun entertainment district, many people expressed pride at the news, but there was no flag waving on the streets or any other celebrations.
"I didn`t know about it. I just ended work," said Wang Xue, 33, who works in publishing. "I support it. It`s an important event. It will increase our influence."
Photographer Lan Xianhui, 24, said he was glad because he expected Chinese authorities would tackle the city`s heavy pollution during the Games when the world was watching.
"At the very least, we`ll be guaranteed blue sky days in the short term. It`ll be more comfortable," he said.
Around Tiananmen, just one of a group of nine construction workers visiting from neighbouring Hebei province who spoke to Reuters was even aware Beijing was bidding.
"No one cares about skiing or things like that. We like football," said one of the workers, who gave his family name as Chen.
At a government organised rally near the "Birds Nest" stadium, the centerpiece of the 2008 Olympics, organisers had to ask people to cheer louder after the decision came in.
"I think they organised us to come here instead of just expecting crowds to come because the level of people`s excitement is lower this time," said Mi Zuo.
Beijing has had to bat away worries about a lack of snow in the mountains, smog in the city, human rights and internet controls in the lead-up to Friday`s decision.
Beijing`s notorious smog problem can be especially bad during winter but the city has pledged $7.6 billion to tackle the issue.
Greenpeace said it considered Beijing`s pollution commitments to be "relatively ambitious", and that keeping the air clean in February, when the Games would be held, would be "no easy task".
With a much lower profile that the Summer Games, whipping up popular and media interest in the immediate run-up to the decision has proved a tough task.
The official Twitter account for Beijing 2022 has 1,306 followers. Its Facebook page has just 1,052 "likes".
Both sites are blocked in China, underscoring another challenge; whether Beijing will, or can, really unblock the Internet for the Games, as they have promised.