Beijing was the top candidate for the Winter Olympics 2022, and, therefore, it came as no surprise that the Chinese capital walked away with the ticket to host the games in 2022 last Friday. It may have also been a political decision to grant the event to Beijing so shortly after it had already hosted the 2008 Summer Games, but even if it were, the voting reflects China’s rising global importance.
As always, critics could be found all around the world, complaining that it should not be China again. Others said that the region in the north east of the country suffers from a lack of good snow conditions, a true snow sports culture, and the requisite infrastructure.
But that’s exactly the starting point for the good news. Let us put aside the snow conditions for now, but snow sports culture and infrastructure do matter. And there, the Chinese will have to deal with a long to-do list from now through 2022.
Infrastructure is all what matters
Let us begin with the infrastructure: For the snow-independent sports like ice-hockey, ice-skating etc., the facilities of 2008 will be used again, including the iconic Bird’s Nest, the Olympic stadium.
China’s government proved for the 2008 Olympics that they could make the impossible very much possible in the end.”
It will be more complicated for competitions which rely on natural or artificial snow. The alpine races will take place 90 kilometers north of the capital and the Nordic ones no less than 190 kilometers away. Currently, it takes four hours by car to Zhangjiakou, the host of the Nordic competitions. A new railroad is said to reduce the travel to some 70 minutes.
With the 2008 Olympics, China’s government proved that they could make the impossible quite possible in the end. The planned budget for the 2022 games is beyond €3 billion. The money will not only flow towards transportation needs, but also the sports facilities themselves.
Critical event for an entire industry
The building of good snow sports resorts will be critical not only for the Olympics, but also for the development of winter sports in China as such. The logic follows the old question: Who came first – the chicken or the egg? Without skiers, no resorts – without resorts, no skiers.
In that sense, the 2022 Beijing games will help solve that old riddle by providing facilities of international quality and a raised public awareness of some sports, which are still quite small in that vast country. The establishment of a snow sports culture on the heels of this great event is what would really pay off for China.
The International Olympic Committee’s decision to grant the games to Beijing also reflects to some extent the renewal of the agreement between Messe München and Fiera Bolzano to continue with the joint trade show of ISPO BEIJING and Alpitec China, respectively. Both trade show operators have done their utmost to support Beijing’s bid for the games – and the effort was rewarded last Friday. That happened to the benefit of their customers and the trade: for ISPO BEIJING as a consumer goods show and Alpitec as an investment-related fair.
Friday, therefore, was a great day for both the chicken – the investment goods industry in the snow sector, that is – and the egg, the consumers which will enjoy a great environment to use the latest gear. The industry and all related customers in China have good reasons to be in an Olympic mood.